The Death Of The American Dream In 22 Numbers

By Michael Snyder.

Abandoned HomeWe are the generation that gets to witness the end of the American Dream.  The numbers that you are about to see tell a story.  They tell a story of a once mighty economy that is dying.  For decades, the rest of the planet has regarded the United States as “the land of opportunity” where almost anyone can be successful if they are willing to work hard.  And when I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was living the American Dream.  I lived on a “middle class” street and I went to a school where it seemed like almost everyone was middle class.  When I was in high school, it was very rare to ever hear of a parent that was unemployed, and virtually every family that I knew had a comfortable home and more than one nice vehicle.  But now that has all changed.  The “American Dream” has been transformed into a very twisted game of musical chairs.  With each passing year, more people are falling out of the middle class, and most of the rest of us are scrambling really hard to keep our own places.  Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet Americans are very deeply divided when it comes to finding answers to our problems.  We love to point fingers and argue with one another, and meanwhile things just continue to get even worse.  The following are 22 numbers that are very strong evidence of the death of the American Dream…

#1 The Obama administration tells us that 8.69 million Americans are “officially unemployed” and that 92.90 million Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  That means that more than 101 million U.S. adults do not have a job right now.

#2 One recent survey discovered that 55 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream either never existed or that it no longer exists.

#3 Considering the fact that Obama is in the White House, it is somewhat surprising that 55 percent of all Republicans still believe in the American Dream, but only 33 percent of all Democrats do.

#4 After adjusting for inflation, median household income has fallen by nearly $5,000 since 2007.

#5 After adjusting for inflation, “the median wealth figure for middle-income families” fell from $78,000 in 1983 to $63,800 in 2013.

#6 At this point, 59 percent of Americans believe that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve”.

#7 In 1967, 53 percent of Americans were considered to be “middle income”.  But today, only 43 percent of Americans are.

#8 For each of the past six years, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened.  Prior to 2008, this had never happened before in all of U.S. history.

#9 According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

#10 According to one recent report, 43 million Americans currently have unpaid medical debt on their credit reports.

#11 Traditionally, owning a home has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class.  Unfortunately, the rate of homeownership in the U.S. has now been falling for seven years in a row.

#12 According to a survey that was conducted last year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.

#14 The number of Americans on food stamps has now exceeded the 46 million mark for 38 months in a row.

#15 Right now, more than one out of every five children in the United States is on food stamps.

#16 According to a Washington Post article published just recently, more than 50 percent of the children in U.S. public schools now come from low income homes.  This is the first time that this has happened in at least 50 years.

#17 According to the Census Bureau, 65 percent of all children in the United States are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.

#18 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  But by 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.

#19 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.

#20 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#21 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

#22 According to CNN, the typical American family can only “replace 21 days of income with readily accessible funds”.

The key to the recovery of the middle class is jobs.

The truth is that without middle class jobs, it is impossible to have a middle class.

Unfortunately, more middle class jobs are being offshored, are being replaced by technology, or are being lost to a slowing economy every single day.  The competition for the jobs that remain is incredibly intense.  Just consider the following example

In 2012, Eric Auld, an unemployed 26-year-old with a master’s degree in English, decided to find out what was on the other side of the black hole. He created a fake job ad as an experiment:

Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.

If you have ever applied for a job like that, I offer my condolences. You have better odds at the casino. Auld received 653 responses in 24 hours. 10% of the applicants had more than 10 years of experience, and 3% of them had master’s degrees. Presumably, one of them would get the job. But what does that mean? It means that all the other experienced applicants and master’s degree holders would remain unemployed. That is about 64 experienced workers and about 19 workers with master’s degrees.

So how can we get this turned around?

How can we start to increase the number of middle class jobs in America once again?

Please feel free to share your solution by posting a comment below…

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  • truth

    1st order of business would be to elect in all levels of government, more civilian independent grassroots that enter into government for their term, and go back to civilian life as it should be. It is not a career job. We have Democrats and Republicans controlling the government and getting quite rich from corporate hand outs. Destroy the right vs left paradigm.

    2nd order of business would have to be immediately start ending all illegal,
    interventionist wars. The U.S. as a nation will not survive if it
    continues such adventures. And its people can not afford to have that
    debt offloaded on them, which quite effectively destroys the civilian

    3rd Corporations are not People. Repeal 1978 Supreme Court rulling, and 2010 ruling. Corporations should be slapped with fines for attempting to rig Elections.

    4th Start prosecutions of known war criminals and neuter organizations such as the CIA, slapping them with arrests for any illegal attempts at domestic or foreign assassinations, operating on domestic soil against citizens, entrapment, illegal foreign coups, etc.

    Then the nation can go about its healing process, de-escalating militarization of police, dismantling nukes, getting the civilian economy back up on its feet with a drastically reduced military expenditures, and letting the countries people to line up to see war criminals behind prison bars to see the people that did this to them. Potentially do something about the Federal Reserve, reign them in, along with private banks.

  • jadan

    Agree with commenter, truth, on every point, and I would add: eliminate the Federal Reserve system and implement legislation like HR2990, the NEED Act, proposed by Dennis Kucinich in the last congress. This would be my number one priority, to completely reform the monetary system. Following this would be political reform beginning with direct voting via computer in a non-hackable national system to eliminate fraud that now determines election outcomes.

  • Gil G

    Why should Americans have it easy on the world stage? Other countries have to work hard for their pay so why too can’t Americans do the same? The principle reason Americans had it easy in the 50’s, 60’s and to a lesser extent the 70’s was the post-WW2 era in which other countries had lost their industrial base or was steeped in Communism. Americans today are confusing a brief anomalous good period as some sort of norm when it wasn’t.

    • Clif Brown

      Gil, I’m curious. What do you do for a living?

      • Gil G

        What difference does that make? We expect Chinese and Indians to work hard for a pittance while Americans are supposed to work less while living a sumptuous lifestyle. Go back to life for the average American before WW2 and their “middle class” would be probably considered working class by today’s standards.

        • Clif Brown

          It makes a big difference. Your reply was expected.

        • Clif Brown

          Gil – I just read this fact – “53% of the American workforce is making $30,000 or less per year”. That’s enough money to support one person who has no bills, mortgage, etc. but many in this 53% likely have a family. Another factoid in the same article says that 1 out of 5 schoolchildren in public schools are on food stamps. Wouldn’t it be better to work toward raising incomes worldwide than trying to knock down American incomes? I haven’t noticed any knockdown of executive pay. It’s worth noting that current American workers and not the same people who enjoyed “having it easy” in the 1950’s and 60’s.

          • Gil G

            Once again – why should Americans automatically get a higher standard of living over the rest of the world? Raising incomes makes as much sense as raising profit margins – businesses would love to do that but competition prevents them. By the same token we all would love big bucks for minimal work but competition likewise means other will work more for less.
            On the other hand, I noted that the post WW2 generation had it easy because of low world competition – either countries were rebuilding their losses from WW2 or were Communist countries.

          • Clif Brown

            Gil – my last post does not indicate “a higher standard of living” for Americans, nor did I say anything about Americans deserving anything. Why do you believe in the face of the figures I quoted that Americans are so well off or that they do not justifiably earn what they make? As for “we would all love big bucks for minimal work” – that’s not true. The large number of people would simply like to make enough to support a family and be able to pay rent for a place to live and are unable to do so at minimum wage, or less.

            Societies decide on what they value and act accordingly. If you are saying that “the market decides” then you are putting the cart before the horse. There are countries that have the system they want, different from what we have in the U.S., and they are willing to do what it takes to have it that way, they assess higher taxes and provide greater services and prosper with far less income inequality than in America. Saying that the market decides ignores the fact that it decides quite differently for people depending on what their income level is.

            I asked what you do for a living. I did so because you are telling Americans what they should expect to do without indicating whether you yourself have followed the course you are prescribing for Americans in your original post – to move anywhere, do anything necessary in pursuit of any job regardless of what it pays? Are you an American yourself?

          • Gil G

            Just because you have an idea of what you think life should be doesn’t mean it should automatically happen that way. It’s doubtful the average American works harder than the average Chinese worker so there’s no reason for the American worker to make more than the Chinese worker.

          • Clif Brown

            Gil – Read your last comment. Then put it into effect for yourself by considering this: There are people who work harder than you and get paid less. I’m not singling you out, this can be said of every worker. You show me a burger flipper at Wendy’s and I’ll show you another flipping faster for the same pay, or less. So why are you making as much as you do? You should get a pay cut immediately, or someone will be found to work for less. Again, what do you do for a living because you appear to be clueless about actual day-to-day work. Are you paid by the hour? How would you respond to your superior who tells you to hit the road, someone has been found who will work for less than you? I suspect you may be your own boss and have never faced the issue.

            Your initial post implies the people are overpaid and driving working conditions down is a good thing in the name of fairness in pay. You hide this behind the idea that the labor market demands it, while all stand helplessly by. Good American working conditions did not come by magic and were not a fluke. American competition in-country has always been fierce. Labor conditions improved because people demanded it, strikers refused to work. Are you familiar with labor history? Employee gets hurt on the job, too bad, he pays the medical bills. Employee gets sick and can’t come to work for a couple of days – dock his pay until he returns. 50 hour week? Not enough, make it 60 or you are fired. The is the road you are projecting in your advice to American workers.

            In China, employees at Foxconn, a huge company that makes a majority of the electronics for American companies, were committing suicide while on the job making goods for Apple and Dell and other big brands, who had no complaints until the facts got out and those companies were shamed into demanding better working conditions – and they got them. Using your logic, Americans should be ready to see suicides on the job because they can expect no better conditions here and that is just the way it has to be because the market rules. That’s nuts and a recipe for revolution. People will only take so much before they revolt.

          • Gil G

            Why should you be entitled to a cosy job and a cosy life because you want it? So we nowadays we live in a more Capitalist job environment where jobs are insecure and not-so-well paid? At least you’re not on the other side of the world where people are caught in wars and violence. Go back to the average standard of living in the West a century or so ago and it gets close to life as those in poor countries. So it’s not as if to say it’s been all bad.

  • Kat

    All of these comments are national and political… Look local. We’re talking jobs here. Change your street. Change your neighborhood. Change your city. Change your country. Give of your creative energy, make work for others, share the rewards.

    • Clif Brown

      Kat, you are giving us the standard American imperative, the same as it has always been. That hasn’t changed. Same advice over a long period of time and it has always been internalized by many…but, it’s not working. People are not lazy, job listings get a huge response, but there are so many more who want the work than can find it. Lack of initiative is not the problem.

      • Gil G

        At what point were you entitled to a job for life that would support the standard of living you want? At what point did you assume it was okay for countries to be poor but the U.S. was sacrosanct?

  • Michael Daush

    Let us pay a 10% flat tax.
    No stupid wars over oil.
    No more than 10% of budget goes to defense.
    Eliminate GMO food, vaccines, fluoride in water.
    Give a billion dollar reward to the best cold fusion energy generator.
    Balanced federal budget.
    Eliminate the Fed.
    Open state banks like N. Dakota.
    You do this, there will be so many jobs created, it will make your head swim.

  • Clay

    Who knows when, but if our standards of living continue to decline at this rate, it will lead first to some sort of revolution, followed by a paradigm shift.

    Think positive!

    I say learn hands on skills now. You can always barter and trade with your community. Be friends with your neighbors. Strong, skilled communities survive crisis best.