America: land of the downwardly mobile

Used to be America was the place where parents wanted the best for their children, and usually saw them get it.

No matter how well you did, they did better.

It’s called upward mobility.

Lately, there’s been lots of talk that this trend is coming to an end, owing to the recession and other factors.

Turns out that a good number of Americans were downwardly mobile long before the latest downturn. You can go back to the ’60s in fact.

According to a new study from Pew, which did something called the Economic Mobility Project,” almost one in three people who were born and raised middle class in the U.S. in the early to mid-1960s fell in economic status when researchers checked back in on them four decades later.

It’s important to note that they fell before the recession kicked in.

Essentially, those people grew up in families earning what was considered middle class for the time, about $33,000 to $64,000 in 1979.

Now, they’d have to earn an inflation-adjusted $54,000 to $111,000 to stay middle class.

A lot have not.

The middle class is defined as those between the 30th and 70th income percentile, notes CNN Money in its report.

14 comments Add your comment


January 13th, 2012
10:46 am

Gets worse by the year. Our company did pay reductions when Obama was elected and hasn’t even considered giving them back. Forget about a raise. Thankful to still be employed though.


January 13th, 2012
10:57 am

you can’t have everyone always moving up on the scale. If you want things to be ‘equal’ we’d all be equally poor, honestly. Capitalism allows for people to do better for themselves. But it also allows one to do worse.

Occupy This

January 13th, 2012
11:13 am

The 1% are well on their way to enslaving the 99% in the shackles of poverty. Fight back, eat the rich!


January 13th, 2012
11:32 am

Yes, @atlmom, there WON’T be everyone moving UP the scale, however, a disproportionate number od Americans can’t even remain in the middle class. This is supported by a lack of jobs, lack of discretionary income, and cost of living adjustments upward for those who are employed. Funny, the duties of most jobs have increased with the trimming of the workforce, but no one has had their pay increased. Thus the disparity. Frankly, I would love to have achieved what those in the 1% have, but I am not a member of their clique, country club, or executive fraternity. I have achieved personal success in being a college graduate, well traveled, and culturally developed, married with great kids. Where I’ve failed at is not being in charge of my own destiny. I have been laid off, position eliminated, and after making millions for my former employer (a national bank), dumped in order to SAVE money for the corporation. They also took my developed niche business and placed people in it that did not have the skill or passion to succeed. That business failed within months after my departure, and then the corporation collapsed. Irony. Cost cutting, eh?

Bottom line, this disparity is not just the sitting President’s fault, it is shared by ALL politicians who have been bought by the special interests (banks, big business, etc.). It is almost as this was a coordinated strategy to bring this nation to its knees and cause the chasm that separates us. All in the name of record profits. This is America. I fought for her. Some of my buddies died for her. So we could preserve the American Dream. Our dream is now a nightmare.

So, @atlmom, I agree that some will succeed, that is how things are in reality. You just can’t forget those that work their collective tails off and still come up short.

I AM THE 99%….


January 13th, 2012
1:31 pm

Capitalism only works if you share. The vultures took over capitalism and what were living with now are the results. When you have stagnated wages that don’t keep up with the rising costs of everything, those making those wages will not move up, they go down. We are inching along now but it will take years to move out of this downward spiral some of our politicians created with their deregulation mentality. Deregulation of banks etc. never work because humans/businesses are basically greedy and what they have is never enough. There always has to be a bull in the pasture to make sure all the cows do what they should. That’s just they way it is. If we don’t have that control then we are left with the fiasco we are working through now.


January 13th, 2012
2:07 pm

The problem that NO ONE wants to talk about is overpopulation. We need to freeze ALL immigration indefinitely AND remove tax incentives and benefits for having more than 2 kids. We also need to learn to live within our means, and that includes unrealistic expectations on profit growth from greedy Wall Street investors. We no longer have a country to fill…the laws that have promoted population growth are outdated and need change, otherwise our downward mobility is only going to get worse.


January 13th, 2012
3:11 pm

because of the crooked bush giving away all that money to his rich white friends, the middle and lower class people get hosed, especially African-Americans! Hopefully obama gets all this cleaned up in his next term!

bob walters

January 14th, 2012
4:07 am

If American wasn’t turning into the Soviet States of America, people would not have the choice to hitch a free ride on Uncle Sam.

To reverse this trend, the US government must end incentives to do nothing. Unemployment must end; welfare must end; Disability, Medicaid, Social Security, Obamacare, Medicare… it ALL has to go! The US was founded on the principle of personal responsibility. Let’s get back to founding principles and make this country great again.

Tea Party 2012!


January 16th, 2012
4:52 pm

YEAH bob walters,

I got MINE, F all of you ..

Nice attitude bro

Jesse Ton

January 18th, 2012
2:08 pm

“Capitalism only works if you share.” These are things that only losers say. Go out and get yours, quit trying to take from those that have. Have you known many rich people? Chances are, while you were smoking weed in high school and skipping school, they were working hard to get ahead. You want the government to pick the winners and losers huh? Yeah, obviously that’s working out well. I’m fascinated when people want to limit what people can earn but not what the government can confiscate.


January 18th, 2012
2:09 pm

Salaries have not kept pace with inflation.

There are a lot of people who made ~ $100,000 a year in the 1980’s. Those same jobs still pay roughly $100,000 a year.

Houses cost a lot more. Cars cost a lot more. Gasoline costs 500x more.

There’s simply no way to work for a company and make it to the top 1% (or 5% or 10% for that matter). You have to make your own fortune.


January 18th, 2012
3:04 pm

Similar most other Americans, I am now working much harder for less income.Coupled with increase outflow of income. Fuel and groceries being the main culprit. Thankfully, over the years I’ve managed to be conservative with my lifestyle and hope I can dog paddle my way on out to retirement without any major concerns. A meager retirement verses a grandiose lifestyle.
I feel sad for the younger generation of Americans just entering the work force though. Unless the specialize in something like the medical field the good paying jobs are not there anymore.


January 18th, 2012
3:18 pm

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Going On 15months

January 18th, 2012
3:35 pm

Going on 15 months without a job. Somebody do something. Please.