The Long Death of America’s Middle Class
By Nick Giambruno
Posted July 5, 2018
The late 1950s was the golden age of America’s middle class. This isn’t nostalgia talking. The US really did have robust Main Streets and thriving small businesses. Around then, a husband could support his family on an average income. He and his wife likely owned their own home, as well as their car. They had multiple children—and didn’t think much of the cost of having more. Plus, they had money to save.
Compare that to the average family today. Both spouses likely have to work—whether they want to or not—just to afford the same basic lifestyle. In 1959, the median annual salary for a US high school teacher was $5,276, according to the Department of Labor. Meanwhile, the median US home value was $9,627, according to the US Census Bureau.
That means a teacher made enough money each year to cover over half of the price of a middle-class home. Or 55%, to be exact. Take a minute and think… How does your annual income compare to the price of your home? I’d bet many people make far less than 55%. Today, the median purchase price of a US home is $241,700. To maintain the 1959 income-to-home price ratio, a high school teacher would need to make $132,935 annually. Of course, the average high school teacher doesn’t make nearly that much. Not even close. He or she makes around $48,290—just enough to cover 36% of the median home price. More…