Recent Trends in the Material Well-Being of the Working Class in America

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9 Scopus citations


I examine trends in the material well-being of working-class households using data from the Current Population Survey in the two decades surrounding the Great Recession. In the years leading up to the Great Recession, average earnings, homeownership, and insurance coverage all fell, and absolute poverty and food insecurity accelerated. After-tax incomes were, for the most part, stagnant. The economic hemorrhaging either abated or reversed, however, in the decade after the Great Recession, especially for the least skilled and for households headed by a Hispanic person. This includes robust earnings growth, which led to declines in earnings inequality, absolute poverty, and food insecurity, coupled with increased insurance coverage and a modest rebound in after-tax incomes. As many of these recent advances likely stalled with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I discuss various policy options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-91
Number of pages22
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science.


  • food insecurity
  • health insurance
  • homeownership
  • income growth
  • poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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