MIDDLE CLASS SQUEEZE…. Courtesy of McClatchy, here’s a nice graphic that explains why most people aren’t very impressed by the past five years of economic expansion. It’s because they’re not seeing it themselves:

Through September, the growth in hourly wages was flat or negative for 27 of the previous 29 months, according to Labor Department data….Workers are barely keeping up. Health care, wages and energy prices are consumers’ top three economic concerns, according to a Gallup poll in September.

“That has to do with things like stagnant wages, fears of jobs being outsourced, income security. These are on people’s minds, particularly in lower- and middle-income areas,” said Dennis Jacobe, chief economist in Charlotte, N.C., for Gallup.

“I think it’s quite clear to people that their paychecks are being squeezed when they try to meet their family budgets,” said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “There’s a disconnect between overall economic performance and paychecks of working families.”

And this is all happening when the broad economy is chugging along pretty nicely. What’s going to happen when there’s a downturn?

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