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« Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 83 | WILLisms.com | A Couple More Days Of Voting... »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 385 -- More On The Disappearing Middle Class.

It's Getting Better All The Time-

More on the vanishing middle class:

Reynolds continues by telling of a 2004 story in the Washington Post titled, "The Vanishing Middle-Class Job." The Post article pointed out that in 1967, nearly a quarter (22.3 percent) of households made between $35,000 and $49,999 in inflation-adjusted terms, but that that share was down to 15 percent by 2003. Reynolds notes that the same article showed that the percentage of U.S. households with a real income higher than $50,000 rose from 24.9 percent in 1967 to 44.1 percent in 2003. Moreover, the percentage with income lower than $35,000 fell from 52.8 percent to 40.9 percent. In other words, the "middle class" was shrinking because people were moving out of the Post's statically defined middle class into a higher income class.

And here's the graphical representation of those numbers:


So, again, to the extent that the middle class is vanishing, it's that it is moving upward. Even after the tolls of inflation, Americans are getting wealthier. When you consider that the income tax burden has fallen since 1967, Americans are doing even better.

We have a very good thing going in this country. Let's not mess it up.

It looks like I might need to get this book by Alan Reynolds, which is providing so many of these numbers.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Air Pollution Declining.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 December 2006 01:01 PM


And in 1967 what percentage of those middle-class households were 1-income vs 2-income households? And in 2003?

Posted by: John Hascall at December 15, 2006 10:31 AM

And in 1967 what percentage of those middle-class households were 1-income vs 2-income households? And in 2003?

Why must you lefties analyze everything with your relentless logic? You should all just accept that today's families with two full-time workers working a combined 90 hours per week to earn $52,000 is MUCH better than 1967's families, with one full-time worker earning $48,000 over 40 hours.

Posted by: Midwest Product at December 15, 2006 10:44 AM

Inflation figurues like don't consider energy, health care or college tuition. Income taxes may be down, but federal debt and deficit is way up. We're taxing the future to pay for today.

Posted by: Dave Mooney at December 15, 2006 11:06 AM

This guy's analysis is FREAKIN' BRILLIANT! It based off the principal that if you go back in time far enough, we all look like millionaire philosopher kings!

For instance, here's a short list of things the middle class now has to worry about that weren't serious issues in 1967.

* Health Care
* College Tuition for one, maybe two children
* Private Schooling for one, maybe two children (unless, you know, having your children wear see-thru backpacks and go through a metal detector every day is a education that will prep your child for the 21st century.)
* A Personal Computer
* Internet Access (which will double your cable bill)
* Home theater of some kind (not essential, but if you're middle class people will look at you funny if you're just got a color tv and dvd player. I'm not taking about some ludacrious package. Just a quality DVD player, Widescreen TV, speakers, DVR, etc -- with bonus points for HDTV)
* Xbox 360/Wii/PS3 (if you have teenagers, this is pretty much a given)
* ARMs -- interest rates on home loans that jump up 2-3 points after 5 years.
* Car payments -- cars are a lot more expensive. Which also means higher insurance costs.
* MP3 Player (keeping up with the jones' again)
* Cell phones (let's face it, today they're pretty much viewed as a necessity. And we in the US pay more per-minute than anyone else does overseas).

So despite a lower tax burdern, a higher costs of living and higher health care and education expenses definitely make the middle class seem to shrink the other way.

Why not come up with some more support metrics if you feel you're so right?

Like, how many college graduates pay off their loans in less than 10 years? What's the average age of a first time buyer of a house back then and now? What's the average starting salary for college graduates, and how much is it likely to increase after 5 years out in the work force? Why not compare the cost of automobiles from 1967 and now? And homes?

Nice try, but I think your graphic is highly inaccurate.

Posted by: Christopher Wilson at December 15, 2006 11:49 AM


Problem with accounting with "constant" dollars is that the cost of living is not constant. All the money in the world could not have bought a laptop computer or an MRI in 1963. Today we have two-income households who pay much more for healthcare, child care, energy, fresh food, etc, than they did in the 60's.

"The noose is actually just as roomy as it was last year, see?"

Posted by: Aristus at December 15, 2006 11:53 AM

The stats say they are inflation adjusted, but if you use the Fed's inflation figured, you're probably far under estimating the impact.

Posted by: Anon at December 15, 2006 08:04 PM