For millions, the American Dream is fading. The middle class – the core of the world’s largest economy – is being gutted as incomes fall and once-reliable jobs disappear. But that's not the entire story. GlobalPost traveled from the shuttered factory towns of the United States to the emerging boomtowns of the developing world, where something very different is at work.
What's Happening
The crisis of the American middle class has been decades in the making, and despite heated rhetoric on the campaign trail, transcends parties and politics. Here’s what’s going on and what it means for the US, as well as the global economy.
America the Gutted: a global investigation
The American middle class is in distress. Here's what that fact means to the world's largest economy, and to the rest of planet earth.
America's middle class: an endangered species?
Mr. and Mrs. Median America suffer from a prevailing malaise marked by declining wealth, rising debt, stagnant wages and a mounting angst about their prospects.
The politics of the middle class
Almost everyone seems to be in it, and almost no one can define it — but the middle class is the central theme of the presidential campaign.
America the Gutted: the documentary video
Travel from the shuttered factory towns of North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest to the emerging boomtowns of Asia. For millions around the world, life will never be the same.
The middle: Birth of a social class (timeline)
Measuring the Middle
What happens when Wrangler – an iconic American company making an iconic American product – shutters a factory in North Carolina and moves production to the Philippines? Pain in rural America. Hope, and uncertainty, in the slums of Manila.
North Carolina, USA
"Closing down a single factory affects a lot of people. A lot of people."
North Carolina, America's most-gutted state
The Tar Heel State has been the hardest hit by factory outsourcing.
Glenda Bell
"Wrangler kept us motivated. It kept us going. We had something to look forward to. Whereas now that Wrangler is gone, there ain’t nothing to look forward to. What can we do?"
Manila, Philippines
The global garment industry's fleeting hub
The new vicitims of US outsourcing? Asians who once took Americans' jobs.
Filipino factory worker
Manila worker says stitching Wrangler brand clothes has kept his family alive.
The road to the middle class is not a straight line
« Previous Slide
For decades the Pacific Northwest was a thriving capital of ironworking, bridge building and other ambitious infrastructure projects that helped forge America. Then China entered the picture. Neither place will ever be the same.
Portland, OR
Outsourcing America's infrastructure
Once the bridge-building capital of the West Coast, the Portland area has suffered as major projects go overseas.
Portland's waning bridge-building industry
Pressured by low-wage workers from China, a once-powerful symbol of American strength slowly dies.
Ironworker Larry Brown
Larry Brown worked for the fifth-largest bridge builder in America until it closed down.
Ironworker Dean Stoddard
After being laid off twice, Dean Stoddard went back to school and earned a degree in computer network administration but he still couldn't find work.
Shanghai, China
Outsourcing steel
Six thousand miles from California, Chinese workers speak with pride about their role in rebuilding the iconic San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Changxing Island
Off the coast of Shanghai, Chinese workers spent five years building components for the new east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Ironworker Wang Pei
Wang Pei helped build one of the largest infrastructure projects in America. He's also, slowly, building his own economic future.
America is a nation built on laws, as enshrined in the US Constitution. But the country’s legal industry hasn’t escaped the dislocating effects of globalization. The result? Seismic shifts for American legal professionals around the country, and better lives for a lucky few in the outsourcing capital of the world, India.
When outsourcing isn't a zero-sum game

Dayton, Ohio. Nashville, Tennessee. Wheeling, West Virginia. These aren't the first places that come to mind when you think of booming American cities. But as large parts of the American landscape have become increasingly gutted, these locations are presenting unexpected opportunities.

That's because the cost of labor has sunk right along with the cost of living, making lower cost cities newly attractive as places to set up shop for cash-strapped global law firms.

Call it “Amerisourcing.”

Legal Process Outsourcing

On the 15th story of a gleaming new office building on the outskirts of New Delhi, around 100 new professionals — fresh-faced enough to be college students — peer at flat-screen LED monitors and peck away at keyboards. The cluster of pink and blue cubicles might easily be confused for one of India's infamous call centers.

But the hushed, library silence hints there's something different going on here at the India work center of Overland, Kansas-based UnitedLex. With revenue of $40 million and 750 employees, the company has emerged as one of America's fastest growing over the past three years.

Executive Producer/Correspondent: Thomas Mucha
Senior Video Producer/Correspondent: Solana Pyne
US Correspondents: David Case, Emily Lodish, Jean MacKenzie
Manila Correspondent: Patrick Winn
New Delhi Correspondent: Jason Overdorf
China Correspondent: Benjamin Carlson
Field Producers: Solana Pyne, Jonah Kessel, Michael Condon
Videographers: Michael Condon, Jonah Kessel, Travis Long, Matthew Sidle, Solana Pyne
Infographics: Kyle Kim
Design / Web Production / Development: Nicholas Dynan
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