Letter: Middle class has moved up

Published: 10/9/2019 12:01:21 AM

America’s middle class is shrinking. But it has moved up, not down.

A study publicized by the American Institute of Economic Research defines the middle class as those Americans whose annual income, measured in constant 2017 dollars, is between $35,000 and $100,000. During the 51 years from 1967 to 1997, the percentage of middle-income households fell from 53.8% to 41.3%.

But they didn’t become poorer. During the same half-century, the portion of households with income under $35,000 also shrank, falling from 37.2% to 29.5%.

Instead, the middle class got richer. Households with income over $100,000 more than tripled, from 9% to 29.2%.

More women are working, yes. But the percentage of working women peaked in 1995. During the two decades that followed, middle-class income continued higher even though the percentage of working women remained about level.

Since 1967, technology has alleviated the work performed by stay-at-home women. Microwaves, automatic dishwashers and other increasingly reliable appliances have enabled women to devote less time to household work and obtain outside jobs.

In the mid-1960s, Americans spent about 15% of their disposable income on food. Now, despite a far higher percentage of meals consumed in restaurants, the portion is less than 10%.

These trends are all triumphs of free-market capitalism.

Government has become deeply involved in education, health care and housing. Funny, the prices in those sectors have risen especially fast. But of course this was just coincidental.



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