For the President's Day holiday, Where We Live presents a documentary special from WBUR's Inside Out series.
Middle class American families are in distress. Despite the enormous increase in wealth in America over the past two decades, for most Americans in the middle, wages have been flat -- or even losing ground. At the same time, the costs of basic necessities, including housing, health care, food and education have continued to rise. The recent economic slowdown, combined with the collapse of the housing bubble, has made clear that the very fabric of the American dream is being ripped apart. That dream was once embodied by the stability of the middle class, and the idea that hard work and playing by the rules would be rewarded by a fair wage and the possibility to move up the economic ladder.
But that is no longer the case for millions of hard working Americans. For them that dream has been transformed into growing economic insecurity, and in many cases, actual economic struggle. In "The Vanishing Middle Class: Inside Out" veteran NPR correspondent Anthony Brooks brings us stories of real families, and presents snap-shots of the growing challenges that many of them face. Our journey begins in Massachusetts, where the promise of hi-tech and a knowledge-based economy is leaving millions of Baystaters behind. We visit rural Vermont, where despite the beauty of the state’s green rolling hills, thousands of working families are struggling to heat their homes and make ends meet. And Brooks speaks with leading economic experts about the causes and realities of the changing conditions facing the middle class. "The Vanishing Middle Class: Inside Out" is timely now, essential listening as the nation heads into the uncharted waters of a new economic era.