A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 1/3

26 Sep

There are many ways to prove that America’s public education system is not a failure and is an INCREDIBLE success. This time, I will offer the rise of the modern American middle class as an example:


Today, the definition of the middle class in America is complex. In 1951, sociologist C. Wright Mills studied and wrote about the formation of a new middle class of white-collar workers—does not refer to Caucasians but to the type of work—described as mostly highly (college) educated, salaried professionals and managers (roughly 15 – 20% of households today). Then there is the lower middle class consisting mostly of semi-professionals, skilled craftsmen and lower-level management (roughly one third of households).

Another way to measure the size of the middle class in the US would be subtract Americans that live in poverty in addition to the top five percent. In 2010, fifteen-point-one percent (15.1%) of all persons in the US lived in poverty. That adds up to 47.4 million people.

Then annual-household earnings of $100,000 or more puts those Americans above the middle class. In 2005, an economic survey revealed that 5% of individuals in the US earned six-figure incomes exceeding $100,000 annually—that is 15.7 million people leaving 250.9 million Americans in the Middle Class.

A simple definitions says, “The middle-class commonly has a comfortable standard of living, and significant economic security.”

For a better idea of how many Americans enjoy significant economic security, we may want to take a glance at the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression (1929 – 1942), the highest unemployment rate reached almost 25% in 1933, then started to improve.  Unemployment at its worst, means more than 75% of working adults in America were still employed (possibly defining significant economic security). It took thirteen years for unemployment to recover to the level of 1929. In 1940, unemployment was 15%. In 1941, unemployment was 10%. By 1942, thanks to World War II putting Americans in the military or back to work manufacturing weapons, unemployment dropped to 5%.

However, life in America was not always the way it is today and working to gain an education, with an emphasis on work, has mostly been the big game changer.

For example, before 1860, America had few cities and they were mostly small.  The vast majority of people lived on farms and small rural towns. In fact, in 1800, ninety-four percent (94%) of Americans lived on farms or in small towns near farms.

Then by 2000, seventy-nine percent (79%) lived in urban population centers (cities and the suburbs of cities).

In 1850, the average age of death in years was 39.

By 1900, that average was age 49.

In 1970s, it was age 70, and life expectancy in 2010 reached age 78.3.

Life expectancy has also been linked to education. Those with more than 12 years of education—more than a high school diploma—can expect to live to age 82; for those with 12 or fewer years of education, life expectancy is age 75.

Continued on September 27, 2012 in A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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2 responses to “A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 1/3

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse

    September 26, 2012 at 08:53

    Where is Our Money Headed?

    On September 21, 2012, 24/7 Wall Street published a piece about The Most Educated Countries in the World.

    I’m adding this comment as an update for more evidence that the US education system is one of the best or the best in the world. However, I will admit, that there is always room for improvement, but the facts say the public education system in America is not broken.

    Instead, the media and public-educations critics slant the news to mostly report the glass of public education as less than half empty and therefore broken when in fact, it is more than full once we know the complete picture instead of the one that is engineered to make public education, teachers and the teacher unions look bad (as part of the conservative wars against labor unions such as AFT and NEA).

    24/7 Wall Street reported, “In more developed countries, the percentage of adults with the equivalent of a college degree rose to more than 30% in 2010. In the United States, it was more than 40%, which is among the highest percentages in the world.”

    Read more: The Most Educated Countries in the World – 24/7 Wall St.

    Since most American college graduates went to public schools in the US, the evidence says the public education system is doing a great job. It isn’t perfect but nothing is perfect. In fact, the public education system in America is better than any other country when all the facts are examined instead of just those that are selected for public consumption by the critics of the America’s public education system.

    Once again I ask, “What is the political agenda of those that seem to hate the public education system in America?”

    Is it another move to get public sector money into the hands of the private sector to boost profits at the expense of tax payers?

    How much money is that?

    To discover the answer, I turned to two sources: According to NPR, “On average, it costs $10,615 to send a kid to public school for a year. (That’s federal, state and local government spending combined.”


    In the fall of 2012, over 49.8 million students attended US public schools. That means public education costs America $528,627,000,000 ($528.627 billion annually).


    That’s a lot of cash for the private sector to salivate over, but public education money is not the only tax-payer funds the private sector has been struggling to control or should I say steal.

    Consider how long has the private sector has struggled to get it greedy hands on Social Security revenues turned over to it too?

    Revenues from Social Security taxes paid by employees and employers were $698.8 billion in 2011 with trust fund assets of $2.521 trillion.

    Revenues for Medicare in 2011 adds another $972.1 billion.

    The budget for the US Defense Department was about $700 billion.

    Think of all that tax-payer money in the hands of a few of the top 1% of America’s wealthiest people in the private sector then think about the 2007-08 global financial crises.

    In addition, the role of the US military has changed dramatically since 9/11 with the rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army, Blackwater (now called Academi–the largest of the US State Departments three private security contractors). Security jobs in times war was once exclusively the role of the US military under the command of America’s president. However, now some of those jobs are being contracted out to outfits such as Academi.

    Business Insider reported on the largest private armies in the world: Modern-day mercenaries are stationed throughout the world fighting conflicts for governments that are reluctant to use their own troops or where foreign troops are unable or unwilling to go.

    One of the eight contractors mentioned in the Business Insider report was a company called Triple Canopy that won a security contract in Iraq worth up to $1.5 billion.

    Read more:

    In 2003, Blackwater (now Academi) attained its first high-profile contract when it received a $27.7 million no-bid contract for guarding the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer.

    Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million out of a $1 billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which protects U.S. officials and some foreign officials in conflict zones.

    In 2006, Blackwater was awarded a contract to protect diplomats for the U.S. embassy in Iraq, the largest American embassy in the world. It is estimated by the Pentagon and company representatives that there are 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors working in Iraq, and some estimates are as high as 100,000, though no official figures exist.


    If this trend continues, the US will eventually turn over the role of government, including its military, public schools, social security, Medicare, welfare, etc. to private sector corporations. Then the US will not be a democracy any longer. It will be totally run from the boardrooms of the private sector.

  2. mercadeo

    October 16, 2012 at 08:14

    Matching the rise of the 1 percent and wealthy Americans in general has been large and mid-level businesses. While the favored talking points suggest the plight of the middle class and high national unemployment is due to pressures constraining the growth of business, corporate growth has far outpaced hiring and capital investment. These factors have contributed to a startling juxtaposition; corporate profits are the highest seen in decades while wages, income and employment among ordinary Americans are in a free-fall.


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