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The Middle Class

Michigan, once the embodiment of the American middle-class lifestyle, now reflects the growing difficulty to get ahead, or even stay in place. What does this mean for the state where that very demographic was born?

The race to join the middle class: it’s a steeper climb for minorities

Craig Vanderburg will be the first to tell you that he’s worked hard for what he has, but caught a few breaks along the way. He came from African-American parents who were college graduates and valued education, so higher education was an […]

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As the middle class morphs, so does the idea of marriage

Keith and Emelia Stark admit their marriage isn’t a typical one – Keith has 19 years on his 23-year-old bride – but in most ways, they’re cut from the same cloth as other newlyweds in their social class. Both are college graduates. […]

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Middle class shifts challenge traditional service clubs

They’ve been a fixture of city-limit signs for generations: Under the one that welcomes you to the community, two or three service-club logos and exhortations to join the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions or Jaycees at their regular breakfast or lunch meetings. Service clubs […]

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Capsized by economy, Houghton Lake clings to hopeful signs on vacationers

PRUDENVILLE – Whether Randy Krause’s business was the victim of hard times, changing tastes or just plain bad luck hardly matters now. The East Bay Lodge, overlooking Houghton Lake, would be his retirement business, he thought, a small (27 rooms), manageable vacation […]

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Shifting middle-class fortunes transform Michigan’s ‘cottage on the lake’ lifestyle

Richard and Patricia Dolland spent countless warm summer days and cold winter nights in their rustic cottage in Northern Michigan. Every few weeks, they’d drive three hours north from their Macomb County home to the cabin that Richard himself built 40 years […]

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As Michigan families redefine vacations, tourism industry turns to out-of-staters

Earlier this year, John and Katy Wustman talked about buying a little place Up North to spend their vacations. “It was a pretty short discussion,” John said. Unemployed since January and with no immediate prospect of a job, he said a second […]

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Moving from ‘we had money’ to ‘they want money I don’t have’

GREENVILLE – The line began forming an hour before the food truck arrived, starting in the parking lot next to the barren acreage where once stood the nation’s largest refrigerator factory and winding around the front of the former UAW hall. Men […]

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So you think you are a member of the middle class?

Marketers aim for its money, politicians insist they are looking out for its best interests, and the vast majority of Americans claim to be members of this club. Yet there is no universal agreement of what it means to be middle class. […]

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