The Middle Class - The lower and middle class represent the majority of Americans. This group will gain strength and influence in the coming years as it challenges the one-percenters' power in shaping the policies and affairs of the country. The 2016 elections will be a transforming event in history where the policies affecting the middle class appear to be in the front, middle, and back of America's public discourse.
Most Americans consider themselves to be the middle class. According to a survey by The New York Times in 2005, only one percent of the respondents considered themselves to be "upper class" and only seven percent considered themselves part of the "lower class." The rest, 92 percent, considered themselves middle class. Most of the middle-class people are working people who do not have enough wealth to invest. However, a 2012 survey report by Pew Research states that only 49 percent (from 92 percent seven years earlier) of adults describe themselves as "middle class," which seems to be manifested during the 2016 election cycle for a change.
Women Leading the Way - Over the last two decades women in the United States have made great strides toward professional and financial advancement. Women's role in every aspect of the American life is growing and will play a critical role in shaping the future. Over the last thirty years, women have made up an increasing share of the workforce. Wage inequality is decreasing. Women are projected to surpass men in wages as more of them earn college degrees and their value and contribution to the workplace is more fully acknowledged and appreciated.
Women have surpassed men by two to one in earning four-year college degrees from 1980 to 2013, according to a report by the Institute of Education Sciences, part of Department of Education (Fig. 2.2). Moreover, women outpace men in college enrollment, especially among racial and ethnic minority groups, according to a report by the Pew Research Center; in 2012, 71 percent of women enrolled in college right after high school compared to 63 percent in 1994.
Technology - Technological development will be one of the key catalysts that will help with the middle- class comeback by introducing competition and efficiency to some of the age-old operational models in education, healthcare, housing, and taxing. It will squeeze excess capacity in transportation, lodging, logistics, buildings, and other sectors alike and turn them into productive, revenue generating ventures. It will eventually lead to less waste, increased capacity, and shorter delivery time of products and services. This chapter is focused on four key areas that will have a larger positive influence on the middle-class pocketbook due to technology: transportation, energy, environment, and communication.
Technology is reshaping American culture and the economy like never before. America is moving away from a centralized economy to a distributed and sharing economy. The United States is generating electricity through solar panels as part of a distributed energy platform; information sharing and data processing have been decentralized through tablets and smartphones; Uber and Lyft are allowing car sharing through technology; Airbnb and HomeAway.com allow people to share physical space; businesses and individuals are sharing, storing, and processing data through cloud-based services. All of this re-envisioning will continue to reduce costs and make us more productive, which will result in increased purchasing power for average Americans.
Millennials - Millennials are exerting a significant influence on the future when it comes to education, healthcare, and housing because they make up more than a quarter of the total United States population, or about 85 million people. They carry an estimated $200 billion of direct purchasing power and $500 billion of indirect spending. That power will continue to grow as they age to peak buying power in their forties and fifties, with a projected $30 trillion in inheritance over the next several decades. Combine that with about $1.5 trillion in investable assets, and they will shape the economy and public policy for decades to come through new venues of communication by voicing their concerns and acting upon it.
The White House report describes millennials as the generation born between 1980 and mid-2000s and the Pew Research Center as one born between 1981 and 1996 . There is no definitive agreement on the dates. Regardless, they will continue to be a significant share of the population for decades to come as the baby boomer's size declines. They are the most diverse and educated generation to date with 44 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.
© 2016 The Middle Class Comeback and its affiliates
Munir Moon *** The Beltway Beast