We're back with a special look, as promised tonight, at
CHRIS JANSING reporting:
It's been 18 long months since Kathleen Bellow lost her sales job and her nearly-$50,000-a-year salary. Now she's looking for help at a
Ms. KATHLEEN BELLOW: It's a hard pill to swallow, in a sense, because I'm thinking, Do I have to start all over again somewhere else? Do I have to go flipping burgers somewhere?'
JANSING: Kathleen is far from alone. A joint congressional committee examining the effects of the economy on
Senator BERNIE SANDERS (Independent,
JANSING: Since 2000, middle-class families have seen incomes drops by nearly $1200 while life's necessities keep getting more expensive.
(down arrow) $1,175
JANSING: The average family now pays nearly $2200 more for gasoline each year; health insurance up $363; food bills, $220; and the average mortgage payment rose by more than $1700.
Mr. JARED BERNSTEIN (Economic Policy Institute): Prices are rising much more quickly than people's paychecks. That's the perfect storm facing middle class incomes right now.
JANSING: In the eye of the storm, foreclosures, 2.2 million nationwide last year, an estimated three million more this year. And here in
Ms. ELIZABETH WARREN (
JANSING: And, experts say, an unexpected expense--a medical emergency or, like Kathleen, a job loss--can send a hard working American into a financial freefall.
Ms. BELLOW: And it's easy just to--just get into that mindset of just feeling hopeless. It's very easy to go down that road.
JANSING: For the middle class, an increasingly tenuous hold on the American dream. Chris Jansing, NBC News,