The Great Recession technically ended more than four years ago after the U.S. gross domestic product rebounded from the trough of the credit meltdown. However, high unemployment, stagnant wages, and government policy continue to weigh on living standards and economic confidence.
In its most recent reading, Gallup’s Standard Living Index plunged 8 points over the past month to reach 31, the lowest level since January. The index is a summary of whether Americans are satisfied with their current standard of living and perceive it as getting better or worse. The sharp move lower came as Congress created another political soap opera involving the nation’s debt ceiling and budget. In comparison, the index reached an all time high of 45 in May.
“The recent decline echoes sentiments seen in Americans’ broader attitudes about the U.S. economy, although the magnitude in the decline in the Standard of Living Index is not as great,” Gallup said. “Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index faltered during the run-up to the government shutdown in late September, and has fallen further in October since the shutdown began, for a total decline of 24 points since mid-September.”
Here’s a look at three charts from the Center for American Progress Action Fund detailing the slide in living standards for the middle class: