The Middle Class Is In Trouble!

Only high income earners can keep up on essentials like housing.

The Blue Collar Dollar Institute aims to understand how the United States’ decision to subsidize foreign manufacturing is decreasing the size of our middle class, increasing the amount of Americans in poverty and catapulting forward the wealth in both the top 5% and foreign competitors.

The Problem

By offshoring much of our manufacturing base, the United States has developed a dependency on importing consumer goods, amassing debt in the private and public sectors, and relying on critical goods from abroad in times of crisis such as pandemics and wars.
Monthly U.S. Goods Trade Deficit (March 2024)
$79.8 Billion

21.5% of which is with China

Cumulative U.S. Goods Trade Deficit (1960 to March 2024)
$20.8 Trillion

33% of which is with China

Major U.S. Trade Deficits by Product (2023)
Motor Cars & Other Motor Vehicles

-$147 billion

Telephone Sets & Cellphones

-$112 billion

Automatic Data Processing Machines

-$73 billion

The Data

Since 1945, the percentage of jobs in manufacturing, construction, and mining has dropped from 40% to 14%, eliminating some of the highest paying jobs for high school graduates.

Average Annual Earnings & Benefits by Selected Industries

No Data Found

Average Annual Earnings & Benefits by Selected Industries

No Data Found

The Result

The dreams of Americans obtaining the basics of a middle-class lifestyle, such as owning a home, sending their kids to college, and obtaining affordable housing, have become more and more out of reach for the average household.
Total Household Income Growth, 1970-2022
(Inflation Adjusted - 2022 US Dollars)
Top 5% Incomes

99% Growth

Middle 60% Incomes

20% Growth

Bottom 20% Incomes

7% Growth

Total Household Cost Growth, 1970-2022
(Inflation Adjusted - 2022 US Dollars)
Home Purchase Price

158% Growth

College Tuition & Fees

194% Growth

Health Care

286% Growth

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The city of Dresden, Germany was significantly bombed during World War II, killing around 25,000 people. Since being decimated in the 1940’s, Germany has rebuilt to become one of the leading countries in the world in output per person (GDP per capita, PPP adjusted) and net foreign ownership of assets (Net International Investment Position/GDP).

In contrast to Germany, the United States and its citizens carry enduring trade and foreign asset ownership imbalances, with much of it’s manufacturing core being decimated by sending production overseas.  Almost every American city has an industrial zone or property abandoned due to the loss of manufacturing to foreign countries. We can help cities and our industrial core rebuild, rebuilding our middle class at the same time, by creating incentives that encourage domestic production instead of production abroad.

U.S. Goods Monthly Deficits

The “U.S. Monthly Goods Trade Deficit” is the United State’s exports less their imports for a given month, as provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The figure excludes any imports or exports of services for the U.S.

The “U.S. Cumulative Manufacturing Manufacturing Trade Deficit” takes the sum of each month’s trade deficits (or surpluses) from 1985 to the present day. All historical trade deficits (surpluses) are in non-inflation adjusted USD.

Major U.S. Trade Deficits by Product

The “Major U.S. Trade Deficits by Product” in 2021 were computed utilizing trade queries powered by the World Bank’s WITS database. SITC Revision 4 trade codes (detailed to the third digit) were selected as the trade classifications.

Average Annual Earnings

Average annual wages come from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s “Industry at a Glance” tables for selected industries. The first wages were selected given their job status as being in goods-producing (manufacturing) industries. The last four wages were selected as a comparison to the manufacturing wages given their job status as being in service and retail industries.

Total Household Income Growth, 1970-2020

Income data is taken from Table H-3. Mean Income Received by Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of All Households from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplements, U.S. Census Bureau. Average income is reported for three groups, the top 5%, Middle 60%, and Bottom 20% of income earners. Income is adjusted for inflation to 2020 US Dollars using the annual Consumer Price Index from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Total Household Cost Growth, 1970-2020

Home Purchase Price is recorded as the Median Sales Price of Houses Sold for the United States and obtained at FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data). Prices are adjusted for inflation to 2020 US Dollars using the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Health costs are taken from “NHE Summary, including share of GDP, CY 1960-2020” under National Health Expenditure Historical Data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (, adjusted for inflation using CPI, and calculated per household using Total Households, TTLHH, from FRED. Education Data is obtained from Table 330.10 for 1963-64 through 2020-21 from the National Center for Education Statistics and adjusted from academic to calendar years.