For those in Florida who have not personally looked bankruptcy in the face or fought off a home foreclosure, there may be a misconception that those financial hardships only apply to people at the lower end of the social-economic spectrum. Not true. Bankruptcy can be a result of a medical illness, loss of a job, divorce or a host of other perfectly understandable reasons.

Another misconception might be that only poor people are struggling financially. That too appears not to be true. A recent study reveals that the middle class is shrinking. As recently as 1970, the middle class made up 61 percent of our population. Today, it makes up just 51 percent. For the first time since the WWII, middle class families finished the decade with less in assets and lower incomes than in the previous decade. The study revealed some other interesting trends.

Of those who are no longer in the middle class, about half got a bump into the upper-income category while the other half fell into the lower tier.

The middle class is defined as a three-person household earning between $39,000 and $118,000 annually. Attitudes have changed as the middle class has shrunk.

  • 43 percent of Americans think their children will be richer than they are. In 2008, 51 percent had this view.
  • Americans spread the blame between Congress (62 percent), banks (54 percent), former-President Bush (44 percent) and President Obama (34 percent).

Historically speaking, the middle class has been the engine that drives our economy forward. With the middle class shrinking, it is unclear what will take its place. If you are one of the individuals struggling to hang on to middle class, and your home, it can be a good idea to consult with a legal and financial professional to discuss your options.

Source: USA Today, “Study: Middle-class poorer, earned less in 2000s,” Tim Mullany, Aug. 22, 2012

At our Orlando law office we assist our clients with bankruptcy filings as well as foreclosure actions and credit card debt.