Living In The Middle
Truck supervisor Bernard Levey with his family in front of their home in the then-new Levittown, Pa., housing development in 1950.
Being middle class in America once meant feeling secure. You could count on having a decent home and a steady paycheck. Over the past three years, that sense of security has eroded. In a new series, NPR profiles Americans who are feeling squeezed in the middle and fearing a slide to the bottom.
October 6, 2010 The government says median income household is just under $50,000, and you'd think that single people in that category would be the most comfortable. But as Maryland resident Jada Irwin knows, a national median-income salary goes a lot further in some parts of the country than others.
October 6, 2010 New federal numbers show the middle class struggling a little more these days. Sue Spencer, a case manager for the elderly in New Hampshire, makes nearly the median income of $49,777. "It's doable in a perfect month," she says. But most months are not perfect.
October 6, 2010 The American middle class faced new economic pressures even before the recession. But despite concerns that middle-income workers are falling behind the wealthy, standards of living have generally been rising.
October 6, 2010 Host Michel Martin speaks with Michelle Montgomery, who went from working as a corporate recruiter to a stay-at-home mom in Columbus, Ohio. She and her husband are juggling three kids with an income of $40,000 — below the national median and just below the median in her hometown.
October 7, 2010 Some see the middle-class lifestyle as an achievement, but commentator Samuel R. Staley disagrees. The middle class is a fluid notion that changes over time, and what was thought of as middle class in the mid-20th century is now long gone.
October 7, 2010 Achieving the American dream should be easy: If you play by the rules, you should get ahead. But commentator Daisy Hernandez knows it's harder than it sounds.
October 7, 2010 It is widely acknowledged that the middle class is facing new feelings of insecurity. Commentator Cord Jefferson says that for the African-American community, these feelings are reminiscent of a time when access to jobs was blocked not by a recession but by racism.
October 7, 2010 There was a time, a long time ago, when there were many classes. Commentator Nicholas von Hoffman tells the story of the wiggling, writhing and squirming that ended when we all became the middle class.