>> 26-year-old Mina Whitney is a certified medical assistant earning about $16 an hour.>> So I assume that making double minimum wage should be enough for me to live a decent life.>> Three years ago, Whitney tried to lock down the American Dream, buying a car and a $119,000 house.
But after making her car and mortgage payments each month she's usually left with just $400.>> And then with that $400, I've gotta figure out how to do electricity, how to do gas, how to feed myself.>> Whitney's story is in stark contrast to headlines of a roaring US economy.
Growth is up, so are jobs and unemployment is way down.>> I'm Jonathan Spicer for Reuters. The experts that I talked to say the working and middle class Americans are still feeling the squeeze even in the booming economy. In part because wages have been the missing link in the recovery.
Workers are pocketing just a few extra pennies per month, amounting to about 2.5% annual raise. Meanwhile, expenses continue to rise.>> Just last year, one in five adults surveyed by the Fed said they could not cover their current month's bills. And one in four said they could not pay for an emergency $400 expense.
Yet, consumer spending has remained strong. And government data show that it's people like Whitney, who hasn't received much of a raise in two years, who are draining their savings.>> I had about ten grand saved up before I got the house, and before I knew it, I was dipping in my savings account, taking away money but not really being able to put it back in there.
>> In a consumer driven economy where spending accounts for nearly 70% of all economic activity. It's now the lower earners that are playing an outsized role in driving the majority of spending growth. And if they are stretched too far a downturn could come sooner than later.