Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The typical US worker can no longer afford a family on a year's salary, showing the dire state of America's middle class

Hillary Hoffower
Feb 25, 2020, 2:50 PM

The American economy may be booming, but its middle class is struggling.

The median male US worker now has to earn more than a year's salary to afford the annual expenses for a family of four, according to "The Cost of Thriving Index" published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and previously reported by The Washington Post.

In 1985, the typical male worker needed 30 weeks' pay to cover the $13,227 required for a family of four's major living costs: housing, healthcare, transportation, and education. As of 2018, those expenditures had risen to $54,441, and the typical male worker has to work 53 weeks to get there (shown in the chart below). "This is a problem, as there are only 52 weeks in a year," Oren Cass, the report's lead author, wrote.


Cass formulated the index on male earnings because men are historically considered the family breadwinners. His findings for a female breadwinner are even more telling: In 1985, she needed to work 45 weeks to afford the four annual expenses, compared with 66 weeks in 2018.


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