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Running in Place: Where the Middle Class and the Poor Meet

October 14, 2013

Today, it is not only poor families but many middle class families who are furiously running in place. Millions are working hard to move forward, or just to make ends meet, and getting nowhere. Anyone who wishes to address poverty and strengthen economic opportunity needs to connect the dots between the needs of the working poor and those of the middle class.

Severe Financial Insecurity Among African-American and Latino Seniors

May 5, 2010

Based on the Senior Financial Stability Index, examines seniors' long-term ability to meet projected lifetime expenses by race/ethnicity and marital status. Recommends policies to strengthen financial security, including addressing the healthcare crisis.

Living Longer on Less

January 28, 2009

Economic security for seniors was built on the three-legged stool of retirement (Social Security, pensions, and savings) at the core of the social contract that rewards a lifetime of productivity. Economic security of seniors, however, is being challenged by two simultaneously occurring trends: a weakening of the three legs of retirement security income and dramatically increasing expenses, such as for healthcare and housing. This report examines the long-term economic security of seniors, depicts current trends and suggests policies promoting the enduring well-being of seniors. Particular areas of vulnerability include: Housing45% of senior households spend nearly a third of their income on housing. 31% either rent or have no home equity to draw on in tough times; Healthcare40% of senior households spend more than 15% of their income on healthcare; Budgets1 in 3 senior households has no money whatsoever left over after meeting essential expenses; AssetsMore than half of all senior households (54 percent) do not have sufficient financial resources to meet median projected expenses based on their current financial net worth, projected Social Security, and pension incomes.

From Middle to Shaky Ground: The Economic Decline of America's Middle Class

November 19, 2008

A middle-class standard of living requires that families have adequate financial security to meet current obligations, invest in the future, and access opportunities. The most recent findings from the Middle Class Security Index show that between 2000 and 2006--even before the most recent economic downturn--the economic well-being of middle-class families slipped noticeably.Between 2000 and 2006 an estimated 4 million middle-class families lost their financial security, bringing the total number of middle-income families on shaky ground to 23 million.These worrisome changes in the overall financial health of the middle class were driven by a decline in assets, rising housing costs, and a growing lack of health insurance.

Economic (In)Security: The Experience of the African-American and Latino Middle Classes

February 21, 2008

As the next installment in the By a Thread series, Economic (In)Security uses the Middle Class Security Index to provide the first comprehensive portrait of the level of financial security enjoyed by African-American and Latino middle-class families. The findings show that, in the wake of fading economic opportunity, these two rapidly growing groups face mounting obstacles in becoming part of, and remaining securely in, America's middle class.

By a Thread: The New Experience of America's Middle Class

November 28, 2007

Developed in collaboration with the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, By a Thread: The New Experience of America's Middle Class looks at the financial security of the middle class using the innovative Middle Class Security Index, rating household stability across five core economic factors: assets, educational achievement, housing costs, budget and healthcare. The Index provides a comprehensive portrait of how well middle-class families are faring in each of these areas, with spotlight on the strengths and vulnerabilities of today's middle class.

Who Pays?: The Winners and Losers of Credit Card Deregulation

August 1, 2007

It has been nearly two decades since the credit card industry was deregulated with the promise of bringing greater competition and lower prices to consumers. Under the shield of deregulation, credit card companies have shifted the cost of credit to individuals least able to afford it. As this report shows, low-income individuals, African Americans, Latinos and single females bear the brunt of the cost of credit card deregulation through excessive fees and high interest rates.

African Americans, Latinos and Economic Opportunity in the 21st Century

March 22, 2006

The United States faces major challenges in sustaining a strong middle class in the decades ahead. Rapidly changing, often volatile economic conditions are making it more difficult to enter the middle class--and stay there. Even as the bar to a middle class life is raised higher, economic opportunity is fading. As a result, the most rapidly growing groups in the U.S. --particularly African Americans and Latinos--face growing obstacles to entering, and staying in, America's middle class. Drawing on recommendations from a previous Demos report, Millions to the Middle, we advocate policies that reinforce educational and economic opportunity for all Americans as the building blocks of a representative middle class. Foremost among these efforts should be developing programs that make college affordable, that foster homeownership and asset building and that ensure that work pays a living wage. We also advocate addressing discriminatory lending practices head on as one way to attack America's ongoing legacy of racial discrimination. We must bolster our existing opportunity infrastructure to prepare for the future middle class.