From a site that's hardly a lefty rag comes this extensive article, citing graphically the trends that are at work (or lack of work.) It's worth a read. These are serious issues that deserve serious discussion, as opposed to the concerted efforts of Fox "news" and its subsidiaries in Congress to laugh it off.
Do they have legitimate gripes?
To answer the ... question ..., yes, they have very legitimate gripes.
And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly "de-stabilized," as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning.
The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation's history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.
In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between "labor" and "capital," there has rarely—if ever—been a time when "capital" was so clearly winning.
The article includes more than a dozen very telling graphs.
While CEOs and shareholders have been cashing in, wages as a percent of the economy have dropped to an all-time low:
These are issues that, so you'd think, would be of concern to everyone not in that vaunted 1%. You'd be excused if you thought such concern would cross party lines, and that even teabaggers would smell a rat. Accustomed as they are, however, to accepting as literal truth the Gospel of Glenn, the falsehoods of Fox, the rantings of Rush, they let themselves be used, once again, as cannon fodder.
To discuss such issues as economic disparity is, in their lights, to be a socialist, a communist. And yet, it seems self-evident that if trends continue, our democracy (already mostly a figment) and our brand of capitalism (formerly the engine of the American dream) will perish from the earth.