Weekly Market Commentary

December 7, 2020


Market News and Some Middle Class Benchmarks


The Markets

Major stock indices in the United States hit all-time highs on Friday, despite a lackluster employment report and a surge in COVID-19 cases, reported Lewis Krauskopf of Reuters. During the week, we saw:


  • The slowest jobs growth since the economic recovery began. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 245,000 jobs were created in November. A key sign of holiday enthusiasm is the hiring of thousands of workers to help with the holiday retail rush simply didn’t happen this year. Some of those workers but clearly not enough are helping with online shopping duties, filling warehouses around the country, or driving vans from house to house. They sure are on my street!!
  • New unemployment claims remain steady. More than one million people a week are filing first time jobless claims. On November 14, more than 20 million Americans were receiving unemployment assistance.
  • COVID-19 cases spiked across the United States. Coronavirus-related deaths hit a one-day record last week, and “…hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 for the first time this week, leaving hospitals in some regions of the country without enough beds in intensive-care units to meet their patients’ needs.


Signs the economic recovery is faltering creates a strong incentive for Congress to pass a stimulus bill in 2020 instead of delaying until next year An analyst cited by the publication said, “Under the circumstances, it is hard to be a seller of any risk asset as long as there is a good possibility of getting a deal done…”

During the next few months, markets may be quite volatile. Hang tight and keep your eyes on your long-term financial goals.


What does it take to be middle class in the United States? The not-so-simple answer is it depends on how you define ‘middle class.’

In a 2018 report, Pew Research Center defined middle class as middle income. “In our analysis, “middle-income” Americans are adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, after incomes have been adjusted for household size. In 2016, the national middle-income range was about $45,200 to $135,600 annually for a household of three.”

I am leaving this next quote in just as a brain teaser for my left brain thinkers who like data.

In November, USA Today shared an analysis by Michael Sauter that adopted a different standard. It considered U.S. family income from “…the lower boundary of the second quintile and the upper boundary of the fourth quintile [of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey], representing in total 60 percent of American families…The analysis made some cost-of-living adjustments and found, “…the range of income that could be considered middle class in a given state.”

Ok we are back!

In the states with the highest median (the number in the middle of the list) family incomes, middle-class income ranged from:

  • Massachusetts: $35,233 to $188,259
  • New Jersey: $39,920 to $197,868

States in the middle of the pack for median family income had these middle-class income ranges:

  • Wyoming: $25,760 to $111,422
  • Kansas: $24,741 to $105,573
  • Iowa: $24,663 to $101,008

In the states with the lowest median family incomes, the middle-class income range was:

  • West Virginia: $17,452 to $85,516
  • Mississippi: $15,165 to $81,480


It’s interesting to note the 2020 federal poverty threshold set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which determines eligibility for various federal programs, was $26,200 for a family of four.


Focus On The Positive

It’s a good time for me to share some more Yogi Berra humor to cheer you up!

A reporter asked Yogi, ”What would you do if you found a million dollars?”

Yogi replied: “I’d see if I could find the guy that lost it, and if he was poor ,I’d give it back.”

My parents always taught me to be honest. I figured if someone lost that much money, he’d be broke.


Best regards,

Bill Spalding