If trickle-down economics were anything other than a cruel deception, the United States’ embattled working class would have many reasons to join Wall Street in singing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Giant megabanks have been reporting huge profits for 2015’s first quarter, including $5.91 billion  at JPMorgan Chase (the largest bank in the country) and $5.8 billion at Wells Fargo. But trickle-down economics doesn’t work, and in working-class America, there isn’t much to celebrate. According to UNICEF, the United States has one of the highest child poverty  rates in the developed world—and the fact that 46 million Americans are receiving food stamps (compared to only 17 million in 2000) demonstrates that Wall Street’s profits certainly aren’t trickling down to Main Street. Even when the news seems good on the surface, one needs to read the fine print. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ official unemployment rate  fell to 5.5% in February (the lowest since May 2008), but that figure ignores all of the Americans who have been out of work for so long that the federal government pretends they no longer exist and the fact that many of the jobs being created are low-wage service jobs.
Between the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs, outsourcing, neoliberal trade agreements, growing inequality, low interest rates (which make it much more difficult to save), and the lingering effects of the economic crash of September 2008, serious damage has been done to the American working and middle classes. And unless the U.S. changes course economically, the worst may be yet to come.
Below are five things that could drive even more nails in the coffin of the American middle class.
1. The Trans Pacific Partnership, a.k.a. “NAFTA on Steroids”: The “Giant Sucking Sound” Could Get Much Louder