Millions of Americans are currently weathering the effects of a slow economic recovery. Many Chinese, meanwhile, find themselves struggling less to keep their families fed, according to a recent Gallup report.
Nearly 20 percent of Americans say they've had trouble putting food on the table in the past 12 months, up from nine percent in 2008, the Gallup report found. That’s compared to six percent of Chinese respondents, down from 16 percent in 2008.
Though the U.S. economy is technically in a recovery, Americans' incomes have declined more since the recession's end than they did during the downturn. Nine in 10 Americans say they don't expect to get a raise that will be enough to compensate for the rising cost of food and fuel, according to an American Pulse survey.
At the same time, the Chinese middle class has been on the rise since the late 1990s. The middle-class explosion has been most prominent in the country's largest cities and government policies have helped to aid it along. Businesses are responding too: U.S. hotel companies are launching modestly-priced hotel chains in the country in hopes of attracting some of the scores of new middle class travelers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
And while the Chinese middle class is growing, the ranks of the U.S. poor are swelling. The nation's poverty rate jumped to 15.1 percent in 2010, the Cenus Bureau announced last month, as the total number of Americans in poverty grew to 46.2 million.
There's one area where Americans are struggling less: Eleven percent of Americans said they had trouble affording housing in the last 12 months, compared to 16 percent of Chinese, according to Gallup. Still, the share of Americans struggling to find housing is growing; in 2008, five percent of Americans said they struggled to pay for adequate housing.
And the American housing crisis may be getting worse. Half of American mortgage borrowers with good credit may end up owing more on their homes than they're worth, according to a report from Fitch Ratings. Meanwhile home values have fallen more during the current housing crisis than they did during the Great Depression, CNBC reports.
At the same time, Chinese cities are beginning to roll out policies that would bolster local housing markets in defiance of official Chinese policies that aim to curb housing prices, according to Marketwatch.The Gallup poll's distinction between American and Chinese lifestyles comes after the Senate passed a bipartisan bill targeting what they call Chinese currency manipulation. U.S. critics claim that Chinese officials have undervalued their currency, giving the country a trade advantage and hurting U.S. job creation.