"Unless we are able to reverse the trends that are driving the decline of the middle class, many of today's middle class workers will not have a middle class retirement," Rand said. He noted that the research highlights trends that will threaten the health and financial security of people now in their 30s, 40s and 50s when they are ready to retire.
Emphasizing the critical role
Speaking specifically about the future of
Rand also restated the Association's opposition to proposals that would increase the eligibility age for
Rand's address builds on the year-long "
"The Effects of Rising Health Care Costs on Middle Class Economic Security"
A key finding – contained in a report on the "The Effects of Rising Health Care Costs on Middle Class Economic Security" – is that middle class households have continued to be staggered by rising health care costs that have wide-ranging and negative direct and indirect effects.
The study, conducted for
"For both working-age and retirement-age middle class households, rising health care expenses are taking up a growing share of financial resources, leaving less for other priorities," the analysis says.
"In the Red: Older Americans and Credit Card Debt"
Another important report looks at middle and low income use of credit cards, the high-interest "plastic safety net" that many Americans depend on to get through hard times.
One surprising finding: for low and middle income households carrying credit card debt for three months or more, those aged 50 and over had an average combined balance substantially higher
The report – a nationally-representative sample of nearly 1,000 households – says that half of older
Americans carry medical expenses on their credit cards, with an average of
The survey, conducted for
"Tracking the Decline: Middle Class Security in the 2000s"
Another report establishes a "Middle Class Tracking Index" for middle income Americans (aged 25 to 64) by establishing specific measurements that focus on factors such as financial assets, year-end household financial balances, health insurance coverage, income spent on housing, and household income as a percent of poverty.
From 2004 to 2010, including the Great Recession years, the report categorizes households as "secure," "vulnerable" or "in between."
A major conclusion: among (working age) middle income households, the proportion listed as "secure" decreased by 38 percent from 2004 to 2010; the proportion that was "vulnerable" increased by an even-greater 42 percent.
This report was drafted by
"Building Lifetime Middle Class Security"
In this paper,
"Building Lifetime Middle Class Security" identifies three major themes from the project: middle class security is under attack from all sides; a secure middle class retirement takes a lifetime to build; and a threat to one generation undermines security for all.
It finds that the continuation of current economic trends points to a decline in living standards for future retirees, and concludes that policymakers, businesses and Americans of all ages must take action to rebuild and restore the prosperity of the middle class.
For full copies of each research report, please visit www.aarp.org/security.
To view Rand's speech and additional comments offered by
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