News: Social stratification and decreasing economic mobility

As computers and more efficient practices reduce and eliminate jobs, it takes more than a good work-ethic to remain competitive. Articles on the change:

1. Americans love to believe that anyone can get ahead, that they can build a better life than their parents had, simply by working hard enough. The evidence suggests, however, that this is less and less the case. Just working hard will no longer suffice, especially for Americans who haven't been born with wealth or particular talents. More and more, education has become the key to moving up--from poverty into the middle class, from the middle class into affluence--or to holding onto the middle-class lifestyle in which one was raised.

I'm working really hard but not getting ahead  (The Atlantic).

2. The future of affluence is not what it used to be. Americans have long believed—it’s part of our national character—that our economic well-being will constantly increase. We see ourselves as a striving, inventive, and pragmatic people destined for higher living standards. History is a continuum of progress, from Robert Fulton’s steamboat to Henry Ford’s assembly line to Bill Gates’ software. Every generation will live better than its predecessors. Well, maybe no.

The Withering of the Affluent Society (The Wilson Quarterly)

3. For many economists, the most troubling statistics were those on income inequality underscoring the middle-class squeeze. Census: Middle class shrinks to an all-time low (Washington Post)

4. 30 Statistics That Show That The Middle Class Is Dying... (Business Insider)