Middle Class America: More Anxious Than Aspirational

Getty Images The core of the middle class belief system is that anything is attainable through hard work, whether it’s a good education, home ownership or a healthy retirement fund. But that mentality has changed, especially since the recession.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans are afraid of “falling out” of their class in the next few years, according to a Heartland Monitor poll released last week, and middle class Americans are now feeling more anxious than aspirational.

A majority “believe that being middle class today means keeping up with expenses and holding a steady job while not falling behind or taking on too much debt,” according to the survey. “Just 43 percent think that middle class means having the opportunity for financial and professional growth, buying a home, and saving and investing for the future.”

Here are a few more highlights from the survey of 1,000 US adults: While overall Americans are in a better place than they were during the recession, most actually got poorer during the early part of the recovery, with the unemployment rate still at 7.7 percent. The skyrocketing cost of college tuition also makes achieving the “middle class ideal” more difficult than ever before.

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