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The New "Middle Class" -- New York City and Beyond

What does "middle class" mean? Who's in this group? The Washington Post reported on the difficulty of defining middle class because "the majority of Americans tell pollsters they consider themselves to be middle class." MSN Money offers an explanation of how we think about the middle class, both culturally and statistically.

"Life In (and After) Our Great Recession," is an Atlantic magazine article. Drawing on studies and books that analyzed the Great Depression of the '30s, Benjamin Schwarz explores what might be the social impact from this recession.

In an NPR report, experts discuss the disproportionately high rate of unemployment in the black middle class -- as of July 2009 it's at almost 15 percent, compared to 9.5 percent for the total population. A David Brooks New York Times op-ed predicts a new "social group ... people who achieved middle-class status at the tail end of the long boom, and then lost it." And this recent Times piece chronicles the story of a California woman who worked her way up to middle class until the recession hit and she then began "a descent into a crisis from which she might not easily escape."

In terms of the new economic reality facing many in New York City, a New York magazine article examines the surprising cultural and psychological effects of economic hard times there. "No money changes everything, " writes author Jennifer Senior. "And not all of it for the worse." The New York Times traces how recessions in the 20th century have changed New York City's economic culture, and The New York Daily News' blog features posts by New Yorkers who've fallen on hard times.

Older Workers

Read these two articles in Mike Winerip's "Generation B" series for The New York Times: "Tables Turned, Former Hirers Can’t Get Hired," and "At 58, a Life Story in Need of a Rewrite."

Here's another Times article on the 45-and-older jobless person -- a profile of two men over 50 who are job searching. And check out these two 2009 reports from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College: "Why are Older Workers at Greater Risk of Displacement?" and "Recessions and Older Workers."

The AARP Public Policy Institute and the Urban Institute offer their analysis: "Employment at Older Ages and the Changing Nature of Work," which examines the effects of the shift from a manufacturing-based to a service economy. And the Center for American Progress reports "Mixed News for Older Workers" -- "Older workers are increasingly relying on the labor market -- rather than savings -- to salvage their retirement prospects." But this isn't good news since unemployment among older workers is higher than anytime since 1948, and those who are unemployed stay unemployed far longer.

Jobless Stats in Your State & County

Slate's color-coded map shows jobless data for every county in America. This map from the Center for American Progress shows job losses since January 2005, and profiles a handful of states, including New York and Connecticut.

For information on "broad unemployment" numbers -- based on a "definition of unemployment that includes part-time workers who want to be full-time, as well as people who have looked for a job sometime in the last year" -- visit this New York Times feature.

The Associated Press' Economic Stress Index measures the "combined impact of unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcy on each county" in the U.S. A similar map from NPR shows foreclosure, unemployment and median household income rate changes.

If you want to look ahead -- USA Today's map-and-graph feature presents 2010 job forecast estimates. And for a snapshot of employment trends, go to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and drill down into the stats based on age, race and gender.

Continuing Coverage on the Recession

Check out: Planet Money, an NPR project offering clear, astute analysis of the economic mess -- read their blog entries on unemployment, housing and standard of living. Explore too, "Living with Less: The human side of the global recession," The New York Times' ongoing series on personal life during the economic crisis; and "Voices From the Recession," a video series from The Washington Post about the economic downturn's impact on people and places in the Washington, D.C. area.

Links Related to People/Places in FRONTLINE's report

Jobs4.0 is a company started by Steven Greenberg that focuses on "job opportunities for candidates 40 and over" across the United States. The site offers tips on creating cover letters and resumes. The two groups that were part of Rob's networking efforts are: Whine & Dine, a New Jersey-based networking group for human resources professionals, and Danbury, Conn.'s CTWorks Center.

The Riley Guide to Networking & Support Groups is a guide to finding the right group based on one's geographic location, interests and career goals.

How Are Hair Salons Faring?

Two articles suggest times are rough: "Taking Hair Color Into their Own Hands" from the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal's "Home Barbering Grows in Recession, with Hairy Results." But Slate's Jack Shafer calls out the Journal story as the "bogus trend story of the week," and points to a Sacramento Bee article indicating that "budget salons are having a good year."

posted october 27, 2009

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