America the Gutted: a global investigation of the disappearing middle class | GlobalPost 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.