Today headlines are filled with stories of middle-class families struggling to survive the current downturn. But the problems of middle-class families did not start with the recession.

Between 2000 and 2006, the number of middle-class families that lacked economic security grew from 19 to 23 million. Decline in assets, the rising cost of housing, and more families lacking health insurance depleted middle-class economic resources, leaving millions of families poorly positioned to weather the current recession.

The Downslide Before The Downturn is based on the Middle Class Security Index, co-developed by Demos and the Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, which uses government data and measures the financial security of the middle class by rating household stability across five core economic factors: assets, educational achievement, housing costs, budget and healthcare. Based on how a family ranked in each of these factors, they were defined as financially "secure," "borderline" or "at risk".