What It Takes to Be Middle Class inthe second decade of the 21st century?

Fundamental changes in the structure of the U.S. economy, combined with increased health-care costs and lack of saving, have created a financial trap for millions of American workers heading into retirement.

Having healthcare insurance that covers most if not all the costs of healthcare – not the phantom policies with $5000 deductibles. In 2016, 37% reported having trouble affording health insurance premiums, up from 27% in 2015; 43% had trouble affording deductibles, up from 34% and 31% had trouble affording copays for doctor visits and prescription drugs, up from 24%.

In 2017, out-of-pocket medical costs, which includes health insurance premiums, copays, and prescription drug costs, pushed the incomes of 10.9 million people below the poverty threshold. That’s 400,000 more people who were impoverished by medical bills in 2017, compared to last year.

Significant equity (25%-50%) in a home or equivalent real estate.

The ability to be paying off all debt and expenses over for at least six months if one of the primary household wage-earners lose their job .

Income that enables the household to save at least 6% of its income.

Retirement funds: 401Ks, IRAs, pensions that will supplement Social Security.

Reliable vehicles for each wage-earner.

If a household needs government assistance in any form (housing, food stamps, Federal Energy), the household has likely slipped out of the middle class.

To be fully middle class, there are assets such as family heirlooms, precious metals and jewels, tools, etc. that can be transferred to the next generation and that will not vanish in an investment bubble or medical emergency.

The ability to provide for their children’s education, extracurricular activities, etc.

Sufficient leisure time to maintain their physical/mental, and spiritual fitness and to get training or otherwise learn new skills and find markets for one’ services in a technology changing economy.

To be middle class today is a continuing struggle for most Americans and yet the strength of America’s skills and the economic productivity of educated Americans is necessary for the nation’s survival.