The American middle class is in trouble. Incomes are stagnant or falling, while the costs of life’s necessities continue to rise, and the risks of falling behind grow. The weakness of our middle class is a problem not just for those who are struggling but also for all Americans because a strong middle class is essential for a vibrant democracy and a healthy economy—and for our conception of what America is all about.
This report describes 35 policies developed by the Center for American Progress that would strengthen our middle class by helping address the challenges Americans face in achieving and maintaining a middle-class standard of living. This report does not tackle every issue of concern to the middle class or address every problem in our economy. Rather, it focuses on the central pocketbook issues facing the middle class: the financial squeeze Americans face because they are caught in a vice between stagnant incomes and weak job prospects on one hand and rising costs and growing risks of paying for middle class basics such as health care, retirement, housing, and a college education for their children on the other.