According to a new study conducted by the United Way and due to be released Thursday, 34.7 million working Americans, translating to 40% of U.S. households, cannot afford the basics of middle class life – rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone. This number does not take into account those below the poverty level.
The study goes on to show that the “forgotten” class, a label used during the last election for those left behind economically, is larger than has been reported previously. Currently, 66% of Americans earn less than $20 hourly, or $40,000 a year on average (the national median for average yearly wages is closer to $55,000). While N. Dakota has the least percentage of poor and struggling middle class families (32%) the largest include California, Hawaii and New Mexico, with 49% of their populations unable to juggle affording the basics of middle class life. As a side note, even with that high percentage, California now has the fifth largest economy in the world, bigger than that of the U.K.
In a article published by The Atlantic following a report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the story of the “forgotten” class gets expanded upon in terms of the 2016 election. After analyzing in-depth survey data from 2012 to 2016, Diana C. Mutz argues that the economy did not leave working adults behind, rather, the motivations of voters were pinned psychologically to something else. A growing body of evidence suggests that a historically dominant group of caucasians, tracing their ancestry to immigrant Europeans, feel threatened by the fact that they will soon be a minority in the USA. A sense of anxiousness motivated voters rather than being able to afford the basics.