Lifestyle & Belief

Lyndon Dees and Rochelle James on the American middle class

For many years, an integral part of the American dream has involved making it to the middle class. We associate the phrase with steady, secure work, home ownership and providing for a comfortable -- if not lavish -- lifestyle for our family. But has middle class America fundamentally changed since the Great Recession hit? Do people that once saw themselves as solidly middle class see themselves differently now?

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

We take you on a journey on what the middle class has given this nation.

Takeaway listener Lyndon Dees joins us to discuss life in the middle class. Dees had worked at the same consulting firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma for many years when the recession hit. He was laid off just as the recession officially went into recovery in August of 2009. Since then he's seen his family's security dwindle and his perception of the very meaning of 'middle class' change. Rochelle James says that while she has slowly risen into the middle class, from being on public assistance, she has to hustle hard to remain in middle class America. The major difference between her experience of the middle class and just barely surviving is the level of independence she feels while taking care of her family.