The Shrinking Middle Class

Is this class becoming the overladen donkey?  We seem to bear the worst of it when it comes to taxation, overworked….underpaid…struggling……In order to make it these days with an average family:  two parents and 2.4 children…what must the income be?  Can we even save for retirement? Our children’s education?  A home?

Coments most welcomed…..

—-

An article written by Clammyc addresses this most delicate of issues.

According to the author: Wayne State University demographers recently conducted a study with respect to the middle class, the disparity between the wealthy and the lower income class as well as the shifting economic demographics in a number of large cities around the country. And the Brookings Institution released a report late last month which looked at the shrinking middle class over the thirty year period covering 1970 – 2000. The Wayne State University study was incorporated into or at least formed the basis of part of the Brookings report and was not released in a separate report.

The results are sobering.

From the NY Times article:

[s]ociologists and many economists believe that there can be non-economic consequences for cities that lose a lot of middle-income residents. The disappearance of middle-income neighborhoods can limit opportunities for upward mobility, the authors of the Brookings study said. It becomes harder for lower-income homeowners to move up the property ladder, buy into safer neighborhoods, send their children to better schools and even make the kinds of personal contacts that can be a route to better jobs. The Brookings study, which defined moderate-income families as those with incomes between 80 and 120 percent of the median for each area, found that the percentage of middle-income neighborhoods in the 100 largest metropolitan areas had dropped to 41 percent from 58 percent between 1970 and 2000. Only 23 percent of central city neighborhoods in 12 large metropolitan areas were middle income, down from 45 percent in 1970.

Meanwhile, New York University researchers reported last month that the number of apartments affordable to households making 80 percent of the median household income in New York City dropped by a fifth (over 200,000 households) between 2002 and 2005.

The article also discusses the potential for this demographic shift to not have much of an economic impact in the short term if labor and services is still available. However, that seems to be pretty shortsighted to me. Rightfully so, as the article continues with the warnings above, as well as the observation that such a reduction in the middle class only creates a larger “haves vs. have nots” situation when it comes to public vs. private schooling, options for shopping or other services.

Websites:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/7/23/123025/562

Advertisements