In the News

After years of hardship, America’s middle class has gotten some positive news in the last few months. The country’s economic recovery is gaining steam, consumer spending is starting to tick up (it grew at more than 4 % last quarter), and even wages have started to improve slightly. This has understandably led some economists and analysts to conclude that the shrinking middle phenomenon is over. [...]

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Voting-rights advocates warned Thursday that they may sue California based on claims that the state is not complying with the so-called Motor Voter Act, a federal law mandating that states offer people an easy way to register to vote when they obtain their driver’s licenses.

The law firm of Morrison & Foerster sent a "pre-litigation" letter to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla on behalf of the League of Women Voters of California, the ACCE Institute, California Common Cause, the National Council of La Raza and several individuals. [...]

It’s been more than two decades since Congress passed the so-called Motor Voter Act requiring state DMVs to let residents register to vote at their offices — but the ACLU of California says the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is falling asleep at the wheel, and it’s threatening to sue.

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I first encountered the upper middle class when I attended a big magnet high school in Manhattan that attracted a decent number of brainy, better-off kids whose parents preferred not to pay private-school tuition. Growing up in an immigrant household, I’d felt largely immune to class distinctions. Before high school, some of the kids I knew were somewhat worse off, and others were somewhat better off than most, but we generally all fell into the same lower-middle- or middle-middle-class milieu. So high school was a revelation.

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To prepare for “snowmageddon,” Ana Navarrete stocked up on diapers Monday afternoon. She and her ex-boyfriend, Pedro Blanco, perused the baby aisle of a CVS drug store, having left their two-month-old son with a babysitter.

As the snow piled up on Hillside Avenue, Navarrete thought about her imminent commute. She works nights, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., as a hotel maid on Long Island, about 25 miles east. She drives 60 minutes each way — much longer in the snow — for just $8.50 per hour, 25 cents below the state minimum wage. [...]

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How would you fare with President Obama’s State of the Union middle-class economics proposals to “turn the page” if you’re 50 or older? It depends. [...]

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When it comes to how income inequality can impact retirement, one has to look no further than the CEO suite.

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Americans are ending 2014 with a binge — on credit-card debt.

The year that began with a flood of red ink is now seeing credit-card and other debt spiking higher as it comes to an end.

Consumers have continued pulling out the plastic this year, with a nearly $16 billion increase in debt in the third quarter. [...]

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The holiday shopping season is the best time of the year for big retail chains across the United States. But not so much for the people who stock the shelves and ring up the Christmas sales.

As holiday gift-seeking shoppers return, retail businesses are hiring. But that does not necessarily mean employees are finding good jobs. In fact, if you find work in the slow-growing U.S. economy, it’s increasingly likely to be a low-wage job at one of our country’s retail giants.

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 24 million.

That's the estimated number of Americans who would stand to benefit from raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

And this year there were many signs that those who struggle the most have reason for optimism: 2014 has seen an explosion in activity around raising the minimum wage.

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