Some consider the erosion of the middle class an American phenomenon driven by greedy capitalists at the top or an especially impotent education system at the bottom. This thing is global.
In the 14 years before the Great Recession, there was already a great recession for the the middle-paying swath of workers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Advanced economies saw "a shift away from middle-income jobs" to jobs in industries with lower productivity, according to a new IMF report on the world recovery.
Of the two graphs below, the one on the left shows jobs shifting away from middle-paying jobs in European countries. Austria (AT) lost the highest share of middle-class positions, while Portugal lost the fewest. The IMF found that the euro zone's total loss of middle-paying jobs* was actually greater than the U.S. In the graph to the right, the foundation breaks down labor market shares by industry (manufacturing, construction, wholesale/retail trade/hotels, finance/insurance/real estate, and professional services). One surprise: Germany's (DE) total shift from manufacturing and into finance appears even starker than the U.S.
All five economies in the top right graph -- the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Great Britain -- experienced a decline in manufacturing (blue) and an increase in services (pink) , the IMF states. Even Germany, a manufacturing juggernaut with a ten-year uninterrupted trade surplus, has seen a slight decline in manufacturing in the last decade from 22 to 20 percent of its workforce.