The American Middle Class

June 18th, 2014 by Jason Hartman | 1 Comment »

medium_4336478992There’s been a lot of talk about the American middle class, but how do they compare with the middle class across the rest of the world? It’s an interesting question, if only because they have the reputation, perhaps, of the rich American.

America’s average wealth tops $301,000 per adult citizen and lands us fourth on the latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth report. But that’s rich America—what of the middle class? The median wealth is $44,900 per adult. This lands us in 19th place—we’re beat by Japan, Canada, Australia, and parts of Western Europe.

Among major industrialized countries, our middle class just isn’t that rich. The large difference between the two measures happens because the very rich Americans skew the average wealth upwards. You may have heard that the United States has 42% of the world’s millionaires, which have more than $50 million in assets (or, 49% do).

Because of this, we’re placing number one in wealth inequality. Spainards and Italians have more to their name individually, and it’s because of real estate. In a lot of European countries, home ownership is higher—which means great things for landlords in the United States.

In the United States, the middle class has also been hit by the housing collapse, in which median wealth dropped approximately 40%. In 2010, the median wealth of families was $77,300. In 2007, 40% more. Changing home prices most effect the middle class.

Alternately, middle class Australians are doing quite well. With the highest median net worth ($219,500) the country also boasts low wealth inequality. Experts say this is because of the tendency toward home ownership that has become something of an Australian tradition. While rising prices have made it more difficult for young Australians to purchase property, the country has a mandatory retirement savings program that provides for the future. Australians also carry low credit card and student loan debt.

In the Unites States, wages have be fairly stagnate for a decade, which has led to a middle class making less. Unions have also experienced a decline in power, we’ve seen jobs go overseas, an increase in technology in place of humans in the workforce. The costs of health care and higher education continue to rise, and Americans just aren’t saving as much—especially the middle class.

(photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc)

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