The gloom is rising for the middle class

Here are three of the top financial news stories of the week, gathered from around the web:

Your LinkedIn stuntman

Budding LinkedIn influencers hire ghostwriters to create their self-promotional posts, Rebecca Jennings says in Voice. LinkedIn positioned itself primarily as a social network “for white-collar workers looking for job opportunities or a pool of talent to hire.” But this year, the company has bet it all on “creators” or users who hope to use LinkedIn “to build a personal brand by spouting entrepreneurial tips or nuggets of wisdom.” There are currently 13 million users with “creator mode” enabled, “a setting that expands the types of features users can deploy to grow their audience.” Many turn to ghostwriters for their content. One said she charges $2,500 a month for her services, including helping clients “play the algorithm” to get the most engagement.

The gloom is rising for the middle class

The middle class is more nervous about the economy than it has been in years, Shawn Donnan said in Bloomberg. According to economists at the University of California, Berkeley, “in March, the average real wealth of the American middle class – including the net worth of housing and other physical assets as well as retirement and other savings – has peaked at $393,300, the highest ever.” Since then, it has “fallen about 7%, or over $27,000.” This marks the end of a “five-year accumulation period” that has seen the average middle-class adult earn more than $120,000 in wealth, much of it tied to property. But many of the beneficiaries of the bull market and rising house prices have now become pessimistic about their personal finances.

Sharp decline in home sales

The housing downturn is accelerating, said Gabriella Cruz-Martinez in Yahoo finance. There were 130,000 fewer new homes sold in September than the same period a year ago, a drop of 17.6%. “Newly built home sales fell 10.9% from August.” At the same time, “the median selling price of newly built homes was $470,600,” up nearly 14% from a year ago. This is contributing to a “triple whammy” facing homebuyers as they grapple with inflation, rising house prices and rising mortgage rates, which topped 7% last week for the first time since 2002. The inventory of homes for sale has plummeted. for eight straight months, and new single-family housing starts fell in September to their “lowest point since May 2020.”

This article first appeared in the latest issue of The week magazine. If you want to know more, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.