For years, Andrew Gehrt, of Greenville, S.C., bounced among several low- and mid-wage jobs in food services, retail and sales until he was laid off from a position as a sales rep for a water filter company.
But after being unemployed for a year, the 29-year-old landed a job in September as business development manager for a technology company, at a salary of about $60,000.
“I felt stuck,” he says. Now, “I have a very hopeful outlook for the next five to eight years.”
In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump vowed the country can make its middle class “bigger and more prosperous than ever before.”
Despite economists’ longstanding laments of a shrinking, “hollowed-out” middle class, Trump’s pledge didn’t seem so quixotic, at least judging by recent history. The vibrant economy, juiced further by the Trump-led tax cuts and federal spending increases, has lifted employment and wages for workers at all levels, including the middle class. The manufacturing, construction and oil industries – traditional middle-class bastions — have enjoyed revivals the past couple of years. And the replacement of many middle-wage workers with technology has slowed.
Yet analysts say America’s middle class will soon resume its long-term decline, largely as a result of automation and the continued offshoring of factory jobs, unless policymakers take dramatic steps to alter that course.
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