Economic woes

The researchers at Pew Social & Demographic Trends aren't holding back in their new report on the middle class. It calls the last 11 years, "the lost decade" for the country's middle class.

The highlight from the report issued today is that the middle class is poorer, earning less and shrinking.

In its press release, Pew reports:

When a chunk of I-5 flew up and smashed through the windshield of a car carrying a family of four, the dangers of Washington's crumbling roadways became all too real.

"The rock hit me so hard in the chest, it literally took my breath away," Henry Jessop, who was in the passenger seat, told KOMO. His son Ian and his daughter were in the back seat, and his wife was behind the wheel.

In a study (pdf) released today, the Federal Reserve reports that Americans saw a record drop in their wealth between the years 2007 to 2010. Driven primarily by plummeting home values, families' median net worth dropped 38.8 percent, to levels last seen 18 years ago.

Reuters reports:

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – A count by a volunteers showed the number of homeless people in Bellingham is declining.

Housing advocates say their organizations have had success in a difficult economy by targeting services to the most vulnerable. The Bellingham Herald reports that volunteers counted 500 homeless people during the Jan. 26 "point in time" count, compared to 700 last year.

Homelessness as defined for the count includes living on the street or in a vehicle, an emergency shelter or transitional housing.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Employment Security Department says extended benefits will be phasing out over the next month for 85,000 people in the state.

U.S. Census Bureau

New numbers show the gap between the rich and poor has grown across the nation. But income inequality in the Northwest is lower than the national level. That's according to an analysis released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tacoma is facing a $26 million dollar budget shortfall. That was the grim news Interim City Manager Ray Arellano delivered to the Tacoma City Council during a 2011-2012 budget update. 

Nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty, but the numbers are a little better in Northwest states. That's the headline from the latest population survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.