Professor Beard Discusses State of America's Middle Class

Monday, November 02, 2015
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR -- In San Francisco, Jessica Beard is also doing work she’s excited about, but the similarities stop there. Her job title is adjunct professor, but the not-so-lofty reality is that her teaching schedule in English literature is uncertain from one semester to the next – and so is her income and her health insurance. She says she’s making less than she did in another job she had 15 years ago. The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being — upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability — hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity. Beard has health insurance, as long as she teaches at least two classes per semester at San Francisco State. Last summer, when she had no classes, she turned to unemployment insurance to survive.