middle class shrinking

The Middle-Class

has Shrunk




among attention grab your attention
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tough prepare less/lesser/the least
way full-time make/made/made
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bare majority fall behind
co- steadily put/put/put
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tier grab (2) grow/grew/grown (2)
degree annually lay off/laid off
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Today, a new study grabbed our attention: the middle-class is no longer the majority in America.

In 1971, sixty-one percent (61%) were considered middle-class; now that’’s down to fifty percent (50%).

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Meredith Riley, a thirty-seven (37) year old social worker in New Jersey, used to think of herself as middle-class.

Meredith Riley, Social Worker: “It was a good life. It really was. It was wonderful.

And now, if don’t go to work, I don’t get paid.”

Her county job, which paid about $50,000 a year, was eliminated in the recession.

A single mother of two, Riley now works three part-time jobs — and makes less money.

Meredith Riley, Social Worker: “I think the toughest part is NOT preparing a future for my children, the way my parents prepared for me.”

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Barely half of adults are now (2015) middle income earners, defined as households making between $42,000 and $126,000 annually. The percentage has been falling steadily since 1971.

Richard Fry, who co-authored a new Pew Research study said that as the middle-class has hallowed out, the upper-income brackets have grown, from fourteen percent (14%) to twenty-one percent (21%) of Americans.

That upper-class now takes home nearly half of all annual income in the US: forty-nine percent (49%), up from twenty-nine percent (29%) in 1970.

Richard Fry, Pew Research Center: “It’s not that middle-Americans are worse off; it’s that they are falling behind relative to upper income adults.

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The lower-income tier has also grown from sixteen to twenty percent (16% to 20%) since 1970.

Meredith Riley’s been among them since she was laid off. She has a college degree and a master’s. But little hope.

Meredith Riley, Social Worker: “I just don’t feel like the jobs are out there, that are going to put me back to where I was.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

The Pew study found that the Great Recession hit the middle-class especially hard: their median wealth fell by twenty-eight percent (28%) between 2001 and 2013.

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Homeless. Currently in the US, a few people are rich, some are poor, and the vast majority are middle-class. True or false?

Prisoner, Convict. Did Meredith Riley came from a poor family, but she went to university and had a successful career?

Poor. Is her current life easier or more difficult than before? Is she struggling now?

Lower-class. Does Meredith and her children rely primarily on her husband’s income?

Unemployed. Meredith is very optimistic about the future. She firmly believes her children will be better off than they are now. Is this right or wrong?

Working-poor. Has the socio-economic class structure remained the same in the US or has it been changing? How has it changed?

Working-class, Lower middle-class. Is Meredith confident that she will land a steady, full-time, permanent, good-paying job?
Middle-class. Why might Meredith be struggling? Why is she no longer in the middle-class? What advice would you give her?

Upper middle-class. What can you say about socio-economic classes or social classes in your city and country? Has it always been this way? How have things changed?

Upper-Class. Is there a large gap between rich and poor or rich and middle-class? Is it easy, difficult, in the middle or in-between to move up (advance in) the social-economic ladder, or it depends?

Rich, Wealthy. Do people think this is a problem, unjust or unfair? Is there a lot of debate, controversy, criticism and complaint about the current situation?

Ultra-Wealthy, Super Rich. What might happen in the future?

Pensioner, Retiree. What could or should people and governments do?

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