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.

ARCHIE RICHARDS

Concord




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