Thursday, September 02, 2004
Shrinking middle class: The guys over at Common Sense & Wonder have pointed out some details about a New York Times piece on the "shrinking middle class."
The conclusion: Yep, the "middle class" has been shrinking -- because more people have been getting rich.
The article's most egregious error is the clear implication the percentage of those defined as the "middle class" has fallen because many of those who once were considered middle class have become poor. This is totally untrue. In fact, the ranks of the poor have fallen along with those of the middle class.
Using the Times' characterization of any household with an income below $25,000 in 2003 as being poor, what do the data show? We see this group fell from 33.1 percent of the population in 1980 to 29 percent in 2002. Looking at the data from the other end, we see the percentage of those making more than $75,000 has risen from 14.9 percent of the population in 1980 to 26.1 percent in 2003.
In other words, the ranks of the poor and middle class have shrunk for one reason only — more of them are rich. How can it not be a good thing for society that fewer people now make low incomes and more make high incomes?
I hate it when that happens.