As Stocks Gyrate, Confidence Plummets for Upper Income Americans

More

We called it the two-speed recovery. Middle and lower class families have suffered double digit unemployment, little wage growth, zero spending improvements, and rising gas prices. But for people making more than $100,000, this has been a downturn, but hardly a Great Recession. Employment among bachelor's and graduate degree holders has been less than 5% for more than a year. (That doesn't mean this is an easy economy for grads.) The stock market raced ahead of the private sector thanks to strong growth among multinational corporations and a handful of financial companies.

But the gyrations of the past few weeks have made the upper class even more nervous than middle and lower income families:

The last time upper-income Americans were more pessimistic than other Americans on a monthly basis was during the financial crisis of November 2008 to March 2009. At that time, Americans were facing both a banking crisis and a plummeting economy. Now as then, upper-income Americans are challenged not only by a slowing global economy and housing depression, but also by the financial crisis in Europe, as well as a highly volatile market and declining values on Wall Street.

Only 54 percent of Americans own individual stock or a self-directed 401(k). The vertiginous month on Wall Street has freaked out the richer investment class, but as you can see, it's barely registered for middle and lower income families. It's impossible to say how this collapse in confidence trickles down in the next few months. But it's safe to say the rich are getting a taste of how the middle class has experienced this recovery.

>

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The U.S. is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In