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Fri Jul 8, 2016, 09:44 PM


The US? We're in bad shape': squeezed middle class tell tales of struggle

Life comes in threes for Latonia Best. She has three bachelor’s degrees, is raising three children on her own and has been working for three years as a special needs teacher.

Once upon a time, this middle-aged professional, who is putting her daughters through university too, would have been considered solidly middle class. Yet that full-time teaching job pays just $3,333.33 a month, a household salary that is now below official definitions of middle income – even when adjusted for the relatively low cost of living in a town such as Goldsboro, North Carolina, where she works.

When tax and medical insurance are deducted, her take-home figure drops by more than a third, after which money for food, housing, a car and college tuition has to be found. To make the numbers add up, she has to work three other jobs a week.


On the 3rd of the month, you can’t walk in the door downstairs for people with benefit checks,” Parr says. “One large employer locally estimates it processes $300,000 to $400,000 a month in garnishments from employee paychecks.”

A county-wide hotline number to offer emergency advice saw 31,000 calls between March and June, with 35% looking for help with utility bills, 27% seeking housing assistance and a growing minority looking for food banks.


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