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8 Surprising Facts About The Shrinking Middle Class From 'Third World America' (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 08/09/10 02:19 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:20 PM ET

The American dream may in fact be slipping away. The white picket fence, Social Security, sending your children to college -- what was once an attainable reality has become increasingly hard to achieve.

The harsh reality for today's middle class is that many of them go to work just to get by. Arianna Huffington's new book, "Third World America", sheds light on many of the crucial ways in which it has been short-changed. From our failing education system to the runaway greed of the financial services sector, America's middle class is facing on onslaught from all sides.

Below, we've compiled eight surprising and disturbing facts about America's shrinking middle class from Arianna's book:

Income Inequality Is Soaring
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In 2005, the bottom 20 percent of household earners had an average income of $10,655 while households in the top 20 percent made nearly 160,000 – a disparity of 1,500 percent, the highest gap ever recorded, Arianna notes in "Third World America".

(This chart, from UC-Berkeley professor Emmanuel Saez, shows income inequality is at an all-time high.)
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