Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.US Paving the Way for Massive First Strike on North Korea Nuclear and Missile Infrastructure - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Trump Reset: US War With China, North Korea Nuclear Flashpoint - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Silver Junior Mining Stocks 2017 Q2 Fundamentals - Zeal_LLC
4.Soaring Inflation Plunges UK Economy Into Stagflation, Triggers Government Pay Cap Panic! - Nadeem_Walayat
5.The Bitcoin Blueprint To Your Financial Freedom - Sean Keyes
6.North Korea 'Begging for War', 'Enough is Enough', is a US Nuclear Strike Imminent? - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Bitcoin Hits All-Time High and Smashes Through $5,000 As Gold Shows Continued Strength - Jeff_Berwick
8.2017 is NOT "Just Another Year" for the Stock Market: Here's Why - EWI
9.Gold : The Anatomy of the Bottoming Process - Rambus_Chartology
10.Bitcoin Falls 20% as Mobius and Chinese Regulators Warn - GoldCore
Last 7 days
Warren Buffett Predicting Dow One Million - Being Bold Or Overly Cautious? - 17th Oct 17
Globalization is Poverty - 17th Oct 17
Boomers Are Not Saving Enough for Retirement, Neither Is the Government - 16th Oct 17
Stock Market Trading Dow Theory - 16th Oct 17
Stocks Slightly Higher as They Set New Record Highs - 16th Oct 17
Why is Big Data is so Important for Casino Player Acquisition and Retention - 16th Oct 17
How Investors Can Play The Bitcoin Boom - 16th Oct 17
Who Will Be the Next Fed Chief - And Why It Matters  - 16th Oct 17
Stock Market Only Minor Top Ahead - 16th Oct 17
Precious Metals Sector is on Major Buy Signal - 16th Oct 17
Really Bad Ideas - The Fed Should Have And Defend An Inflation Target - 16th Oct 17
The Bullish Chartology for Gold - 15th Oct 17
Wikileaks Mocking US Government Over Bitcoin Shows Why There Is No Stopping Bitcoin - 15th Oct 17
How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico's Debt Without Hurting Bondholders - 15th Oct 17
Gold And Silver – Think Prices Are Manipulated? Look In The Mirror! - 15th Oct 17
Q4 Pivot View for Stocks and Gold - 14th Oct 17
Gold Mining Stocks Q3’17 Preview - 14th Oct 17
U.S. Mint Gold Coin Sales and VIX Point To Increased Market Volatility and Higher Gold - 14th Oct 17
Yuan and Gold - 14th Oct 17
Tips for Avoiding a Debt Meltdown - 14th Oct 17
Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High Above $5,000 As Lagarde Concedes Defeat and Jamie Demon Shuts Up - 13th Oct 17
Golden Age for GOLD, Dark Age for the Stock Market - 13th Oct 17
The Struggle for Bolivia Is About to Begin - 13th Oct 17
3 Reasons to Take Your Invoicing Process Mobile - 13th Oct 17
What Happens When Amey Fells All of a Streets Trees (Sheffield Tree Fellings) - Video - 13th Oct 17
Stock Market Charts Show Smart Money And Dumb Money Are Moving In Opposite Directions—Here’s Why - 12th Oct 17
Your Pension Is a Lie: There’s $210 Trillion of Liabilities Our Government Can’t Fulfill - 12th Oct 17
Two Highly Recommended Books from Bob Prechter - 12th Oct 17
Turning Point Nations On The Stage - 11th Oct 17
The Profoundly Personal Impact Of The National Debt On Our Retirements - 11th Oct 17
Gold and Silver Report – Several Interesting Charts - 10th Oct 17
London House Prices Are Falling – Time to Buckle Up - 10th Oct 17
The S&P Is A Bloated Corpse - 10th Oct 17
Are Gold and the US Dollar Rallying Together? - 10th Oct 17
Is Silver Turning? - 9th Oct 17
Bitcoin Needs Electricity, Gold CONDUCTS Electricity - 9th Oct 17
S&P 500 At Record High But Will Stocks Continue Even Higher? - 9th Oct 17
Gold and Silver on Major Buy Signal, The Cycle is Up - 9th Oct 17
How To Fight Corruption in the Philippines - 9th Oct 17
Stock Market Bulls Still in Charge - 9th Oct 17
DiEM25: Europe Without Nations or Religion - 9th Oct 17
Gold Price Readying to Rally - 8th Oct 17
Gold Price in Q3 2017 - 8th Oct 17
PassMark Bench Mark of OVERCLOCKERS UK Custom Built Gaming PC (5) - 8th Oct 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

3 Videos + 8 Charts = Opportunities You Need to See - Free

Brace Yourself For The Coming Economic Transformation, Sliding Down the Social Class Scale

Politics / Social Issues May 11, 2017 - 05:38 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

If the average person in the US feels as though they are going nowhere fast, there is a real reason for it.

Federal Reserve data shows people are earning less than they did 17 years ago. But the real story is even worse than that.

The chart below shows that median income in the US is actually down over the last 17 years and is only 3% higher now than it was 30 years ago. Those are inflation-adjusted numbers.


But the reality is that, for the average person, inflation has been much higher than the average of 2% per year over that time. This is because the things that the average person actually buys—like housing and education and health care and all the other necessities of life—are rising at a much faster rate than 2%.

Source: FRED: St. Louis Federal Reserve

So this chart reflects the fact that life has gotten much more difficult for average Americans. If people’s incomes haven’t grown beyond what they were 30 years ago, they struggle just to make ends meet and to maintain the lifestyle they had.

Growth Is An Illusion For More Than Half Of Americans

The Census Bureau updates its income figures about once a year, and the last real update we had was last fall (taking us through 2015).

Doug Short did an analysis of those numbers. He breaks the country into quintiles, calculates the average household income for each quintile, and then also shows the top 5%. Notice that the average income for the top 5% is $350,000.

Source: Advisor Perspectives

It looks like everybody’s income is rising, especially those in the top 20% and 5%. But if we inflation-adjust those numbers, the illusion of growth goes away.

What we see now is that there has been almost no movement for the bottom 60%. The middle quintile has grown somewhat, and—this won’t surprise anyone—the top 20% and 5% have done very well.

Source: Advisor Perspectives

The next chart shows what that growth looks like in percentage terms. We find that the bottom quintile saw their income grow by only 25% over the last 49 years. That’s less than 0.5% per year.

Interestingly, the fourth quintile grew even less than the bottom one, at around 19%, mainly because of government programs that supported those in the lowest 20%.

Source: Advisor Perspectives

But what about the 1%, I hear you asking? Investopedia gives us that answer:

To be certified as a one-percenter, you needed to bring home an adjusted gross income of $465,626 or more for the 2014 tax year, according to data from the IRS. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth put the average household income for this group at $1,260,508 for 2014.

But as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. It turns out there is quite a lot of variation among counties around the US as to what it takes to qualify for the top 1%. The chart below illustrates this well.

Source: howmuch.net

People Worry About Sliding Down The Class Scale

Not only are people making less, more people are worried about staying where they are financially (or not sliding down) than are trying to figure out how to get up to the next level.

The possibility that we might slide down the class scale is the source of much angst. Upper-income people worry they will decline to mere upper-middle-class status, while the middle class doesn’t want to join the ranks of the lower class.

It’s not so much that those upper-income people are worried about being middle class. It’s that they have created expenses and lifestyles around a certain level of income. If that income falls, they will have to change the lifestyle they have become used to.

That is remarkably difficult for many of us to do. Our sense of self-esteem and emotional well-being are, it seems, tied to our lifestyle.

Whether your worries are groundless or real, those fears are greater if you know you’re at the lower end of your peer group. The wealthiest .001% don’t have to worry—they’ll be fine in just about any scenario. But people in the 85th–95th percentiles are in danger of taking a fall in the next big market and economic upheaval.

And of course, the lower middle in the 25th–50th percentiles are very vulnerable to downward mobility.

The Transformation Is Coming

Whatever our income or class, we all face challenges over which we have some influence, yet we may find ourselves subject to a fate that we can’t control. The challenge that we have today is to recognize that the political, economic, and investment forces that we have become used to dealing with over the last 70 years are getting ready to shift more radically than we can even imagine.

We will have to think more deeply and creatively than ever about how to prepare for the changes—the transformation—coming to our lives.

Get a Bird’s-Eye View of the Economy with John Mauldin’s Thoughts from the Frontline

This wildly popular newsletter by celebrated economic commentator, John Mauldin, is a must-read for informed investors who want to go beyond the mainstream media hype and find out about the trends and traps to watch out for. Join hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide, as John uncovers macroeconomic truths in Thoughts from the Frontline. Get it free in your inbox every Monday.

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2017 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife