Middle Class Morphs Into 'New Poor'
Ever more Americans heading downward
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2010 9:02 AM CDT
A job seeker checks for new job postings at the Glendale Workforce Services Center, Aug. 19, 2010, in Glendale, Calif. Employers appear to be laying off workers again as the economic recovery weakens.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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(Newser) – At first, it seemed the financial crisis wouldn't leave the US deeply scarred, that's we'd ultimately emerge from it with renewed energy—until Americans stopped to look around and realized that somewhere along the way the middle-class had atrophied, leaving a small super-rich elite and swelling ranks of the poor. Some 40% of Americans who would call themselves middle-class believe they won't be able to maintain that status, Der Spiegel reports.

Wages for most Americans have been stagnating for decades as inequality skyrockets: Thirty years ago the richest 1% owned a third of the country's total wealth—today they have almost 60%. Meanwhile, ever more formerly prosperous Americans count among the "new poor"—like the Ventura, Calif., residents who eat from food banks and sleep in their BMWs, hanging on, desperately, to that last reminder of better times.