Friday, December 21, 2018

The Shrinking Middle Class: The Current State of Affairs

Dec. 20, 2018

Most Americans consider themselves part of the “middle class,” but no one can agree on what term that means. The problem? If sizing up the middle class is difficult enough, it’s even harder to say that circumstances within this group have changed. But they certainly have. As you’ll discover in this Fortune special report, life has gotten more difficult for the millions of people within the middle class. We dispatched more than 50 people to discover why the American dream has been fading for far too many.

In this section, we examine the current state of affairs by speaking with the people affected most by it. What we learned: Chasing the American dream was once exhilarating; now it’s exhausting.


Walter Ware works his route in Alpharetta, Ga., one of the wealthiest towns in the state.

I started in Residential Trash in 1998, riding on the back of garbage trucks in eastern Michigan when I was 22. Eventually, I went to get my commercial certification and started driving. Last fall I moved with my girlfriend to Georgia. With five kids in the house, we thought our money would go further. I transferred to a driver position serving affluent communities like Alpharetta. But the pay was less than two-thirds what I had been making. I bring home $188 a day. We’re struggling. It takes three of my checks for us to meet the rent. This was like setting me back 20 years.


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