As anyone who's living through it can tell you, the nation’s middle class—the backbone of the world's largest economy—is in distress.
Median income and net worth are falling.
Unemployment remains a persistent and pernicious problem.
Millions of houses languish in foreclosure, or drown under mortgages that exceed their market value.
Health care, education and other day-to-day costs continue to rise, further pressuring family budgets.
To make matters worse, new technologies are decimating entire industries, and social safety nets are threatened by rising government debt.
Meanwhile, the ascendance of China, India and other rising powers is challenging America’s leading role in a highly competitive and increasingly interconnected global economy.
In short, America's middle class is being gutted by a variety of complex and interrelated factors, and this economic pain is increasingly evident to those at its ruinous center.