Middle-class life is becoming more unattainable


A new study shows that most jobs don't support middle-class life after accounting for cost of living.

Sixty-two percent of jobs fall short of that middle-class standard when factoring in both wages and the cost of living.

Thomas Nitzsche with Money Management International based in Sugarland, said while some is mismanagement of money, but a lot of people's income is being eaten by increases that are outpacing salary increases.

"Things like medical debt which has increased at a pretty alarming rate and then of course student loan debt, as well, that has increased exponentially over the years. Certainly housing is a big one in a lot of the coastal cities," said Nitzsche.

He said folks need to do personal budgets because there is a lack of education in personal finance.

"A lot of it also that the major portions of people's incomes is getting eaten up with increases that are outpacing that of salary increases," said Nitzsche.

An annual Pew Research Center reports 52 percent of Americans live in middle-class households.

Roughly 20 percent live in upper income households because of multiple jobs, or relying on investments, an inheritance or other household members who may have higher-paying jobs.

Houston ranked 18th because of both vibrant energy and aerospace industries and relatively moderate costs.

Beaumont was in the top five metro areas for middle-class or better jobs:

  • Share of jobs middle-class or better: 49.2 percent
  • Middle-class salary threshold: $37,693
  • Chiefly supported by the oil industry and one of the nation’s largest seaports. But the share of prime-age Americans who have jobs is relatively low.

Nationally, the study found:

  • 30 percent of jobs are “hardship jobs,” meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet.
  • 32 percent are “living wage” jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home.
  • 23 percent are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement.
  • 15 percent are “professional jobs,” paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.

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