“The middle class is not on the same solid footing that it once was,” said Jennifer Wheary, who cowrote a study on the recession’s impact on middle-class African Americans and Latinos with Brandeis University and the New York think tank Demos.
In the prerecession years of 2000 to 2006, middle-class workers earned less, saved less, and borrowed more than they did in the 1990s. They watched benefits packages shrink. College costs went up, and parents took loans or dipped into retirement savings to help their children. All these factors left them with little protection against the economic storm of 2007.
“A generation of progress has really been erased,” Wheary said. “People who had little ground to lose lost it all.”