man and woman running in hamster wheels Another way this is affecting the middle class is via 401(k) loans to keep up with bills or extraordinary expenses. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The middle class is staying afloat on a sea of debt. Four trillion dollars’ worth of debt, to be precise—and that’s all consumer debt, without counting mortgages. What used to be staples for the middle class—car loans, college educations, being able to afford health care—are increasingly turning into anchors attached to that float, and it’s only a matter of time before they drag everyone on it down.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, student debt all by itself totals some $1.5 trillion dollars.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account?

Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.

More from this author



Join BenefitsPRO

Don’t miss crucial news and insights you need to navigate the shifting employee benefits industry. Join now!

  • Unlimited access to - your roadmap to thriving in a disrupted environment
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and
  • Exclusive discounts on and ALM events.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join BenefitsPRO

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.