The Disappearing Middle Class


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The richest 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 155 million people combined, and leading CEOs in our country averaged $10.5 million in annual income in 2007, 531 times the pay of typical American workers. To figure out how to put those facts at the center of the national economic debate, Democracy Corps was commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the True Patriot Network to conduct six focus groups from a diverse set of voters.

Key Findings

  • Above all, connect our issue with economic pain the middle class faces in a system that is stacked against them.
  • The decay of the middle class is the starting point of their understanding of the economy and the entry point for the issue of inequality. Their own words vividly demonstrate the depth of their concern.
  • Equally important is to highlight the nexus of money and power – oil companies, big corporations and the wealthiest rigging the game by using their access to government to buttress gains at the top.
  • Attack impotence by showing there are solutions that address the problem and that offset corporate power.
  • Voters do not believe inequality is the most pressing economic problem this country faces right now, but they are open to the narrative.
  • Participants lack a sense of the size of the problem and respond when they learn about it graphically.
  • There is need to honor work and balance the inequality narrative ideologically.
  • Narratives that reflect middle class 'Henry Ford' economics generate a strong response.

Read the full memo: Inequality Memo