Based on the evidence below, the US currently has an underclass reaching about 10% of the population. Although these sorts of phenomena occur during recessions, keep your eye out as there are other signs the US is turning into a two-class society:
5) Dollar Tree Stores is at All-Time Highs
Whoever says a dollar doesn't buy anything anymore hasn't been to a Dollar Tree store (DLTR). Store revenues are up 12.5%. That's 12.5% more dollars chasing ultra-cheap products rather than higher quality goods. But when your wages are either flat or nonexistent, choices are slim to none.
4) 2.8 Million Homes were Foreclosed in 2009
The number of homes in foreclosure across the U.S. in 2009 climbed to 2.8 million, an increase of 21% over 2008 and a staggering 120% jump since 2007. According to Irvine CA-based foreclosure-tracking company RealtyTrac, 2.21% of all U.S. housing units--one in 45--received at least one foreclosure filing last year. According to Rick Sharga, SVP of RealtyTrac, 2010 is expected to see between 3 and 3.5 million foreclosures.
3) 24.5 Million Americans are Unemployed
Do you think the unemployment rate is 9.9%? That's not the broadest measure of unemployment. The broader number more appropriately includes those who need work but have given up the search, and those who have taken part-time jobs while still seeking full time employment. And that number is 17.1% or 24.5 million Americans. That's like multiplying the population of New York City by 4 and taking away every single person's job. Ouch.
2) 32 Million Americans Don't Have Health Insurance
They will soon. But at the moment it's worth noting this number because it shows approximately how many people cannot afford health insurance. As my grandfather says, "All you have is your health." These people pray everyday that they don't lose their health because the costs can drive the average person into bankruptcy.
1) A Record ~40 Million Americans are on Food Stamps
If you can't eat, you can't live. The Agriculture Department said a record ~$40 million Americans, or 1 in 8 Americans, may not be able to eat without government assistance. This is the ultimate sign of an under class. And the US has been setting new records consistently since December of 2008.
Do you have other evidence of a stabilizing under class? Let us know in the comments below and we may add it to the list ...