First Person: The Middle Class is Losing Hope ... but I’m Not

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The housing market is going up. Consumer sentiment has been notably higher. One might say that we are on our way to economic recovery. However, according to Just Explain It, "only half of American households" are currently considered middle-income. In the 1970s, it was 61%. Furthermore, the income inequality gap is bigger than ever. In addition, despite some positive news about the economy, reports that 59 percent of Americans "say they're concerned about slipping out of their economic class in the next few years." Yet, although I have had my share of financial stress in the last five years, I'm optimistic about the future for the middle class.

Big Housing Gains in Southern California

In 2004, despite having a decent down payment, my husband and I bought our house for over $400,000. Even for that price, our home still needed a lot of work. Yet, the housing market was booming and the value of our home continued to rise. In fact, for a year or two, even the modest houses in my Southern Californian community were selling for close to half a million dollars. Then, the housing bubble burst and the value of our home plummeted. Now, according to the Associated Press, home prices in Southern California jumped "25 percent in May." Furthermore, houses in my neighborhood have sold for over $415,000. Overall, homes in the Los Angeles area are selling more quickly. While investors and cash purchasers are purchasing a lot of the homes, I still think the gains are great news. After all, rising prices will, hopefully, aid the housing market recovery.

Slow is Better Than Not at All

Yes, the economy is recovering a little slower than I would like. However, slow is better than not at all. It may be harder to get ahead than it used to be. Yet, as a result of the struggling economy, my family and I have learned to get by on less. We are more frugal and better at budgeting. Thus, seeing any sort of improvement is something to be happy about.

More Jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is at 7.6 percent- down from 8.2 percent from May 2012. While jobs are being created, many people in the middle class are frustrated with the lack of high paying jobs. In fact, "only 22 percent of jobs created under Obama are mid-wage occupations." For our family, we are happy to have work at all. Furthermore, overall, the job market has been good to us. My husband has been able to get some extra coaching jobs. Although it is not a lot of money, the extra couple hundred dollars a month sustains us. For a while, my husband, an educator, kept receiving furlough days. However, next year, his district will not be adding any more furlough days. In addition, this is the first year in a long time he will get a small pay increase.

I keep hearing that the middle class is disappearing. However, perhaps this has to do with the broad definition of middle class. Yes, the American Dream might not be as attainable as it used to be. However, I'm trying to stay positive and not to buy into any doomsday theories.

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