The Fruits of Civilization (53-1) The Middle Class

The Middle Class

To be middle class today is to be in an edgy position. ~ English historian Simon Gunn

The British and American middle class are a dual portrait of struggle to make ends meet. In both the UK and US, the middle class isn’t just being squeezed: it is shrinking and sinking.

In 2018, with a booming economy, an official government survey found that 39% of US adults could not meet a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something they owned. 64% could not cover 3 months of expenses. 25% skipped necessary medical care in the previous year because they could not afford it. 17% of Americans cannot pay their monthly bills in full.

The British middle class are no better-off. The average working Brit suffered a 10% pay cut in real terms in the 2008 Great Recession, and the median salary is not expected to get back to where it was in 2010 until 2020.

There is an ongoing hollowing-out of the middle ranks in the British job market. People at the top end are doing OK, but the rest feel that their lives are getting worse. ~ English labor-market maven Stephen Overell