SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 13, 2012

Middle Class income all-time low


Share of income for middle class hits all-time low


WASHINGTON — Middle-class Americans lost ground again last year, falling to an all-time low in their share of income, new census data released yesterday showed.

People with incomes between $20,263 and $62,434 collectively earned less than 24 percent of all income in 2011, even though they made up 40 percent of the population.      The dip was part of a long, steady decline dating to at least the 1960s, when the middle class shared 29 percent of all income.

In contrast, the census data show, the bottom fifth held its own as the poverty level flattened out, while the top fifth increased its share to half of all income.

  • The top 5 percent gained the most, gaining almost 5 percent in a single year.

“This is a huge drop,” said Tim Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “It’s the working class. Their pay rate has gone down, the number of hours that everyone in the house works has gone down, their homes have lost value. These are the people really ravaged by the recession.”

As a snapshot of a nation recovering from one of its worst recessions, the census statistics showed an upper class that has more than regained its losses and a lower class that has found a floor to its fall.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2011 was 15 percent, lower than many poverty experts were forecasting. The number of people living in poverty last year, 46.2 million, also was virtually unchanged from 2010. Since 2007, the last full year before the recession began, the poverty rate is up by 2.5 percentage points.

Despite an official recovery now entering its fourth year, the census said median household income declined by 1.5 percent, to $50,054.
The health-insurance numbers showed the impact of a provision in the federal Affordable Care Act allowing parents to keep their children on family policies until they turn 26. The rate of young adults ages 19 to 25 without insurance went down 2 percent, a figure that census officials said was largely because of the new law.

This week, the Pew Research Center said a third of Americans now identify themselves as lower class or lower middle class, up from a quarter four years ago. Among young adults, the percentage who see themselves as occupying the bottom of the heap is even higher.   Poverty is defined as an income of less than $22,811 for a family of four.

Many of the poor are children — 16.1 million people younger than 18 lived in poverty in 2011, a decrease from 16.3 million in 2010.
Economists expressed surprise that the poverty rate was not worse. Many had predicted it would be higher than it was when President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in 1964.
“It looks as though we’ve sort of hit bottom,” said Peter Edelman of George-town University, the author of So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America.

“It’s still very, very troubling. It’s a very serious picture. We’ve added 15 million people in poverty since the turn of the century, since (President Bill) Clinton left office, 6 million before the recession and 9 million more since. The fact it isn’t worse is at best the sound of one hand clapping.”

(These are the facts about that good old American Pie we’re supposed to be sharing.  Oh, you don’t eat pie anymore. . . I get that!  Well, at least we have that equal opportunity thing going for us, right?  . . . .   .  .  I’m sorry, don’t cry – – did someone die?

I know we didn’t need a chart to tell us how difficult stuff has been, how unfair that our do-nothing Congress has been in deliberately striving to block every effort of our president who knows what to do and has tried to do it.   We’ve all heard about the Republican vow and promise to unseat Obama by making sure he can’t accomplish his goals or successfully doing his job.   But his goals were ours.  His dreams were for our benefit.  So when they tried to throttle the president, they have almost completely broken America.  But we are NOT DEAD YET

 November 6 is just around the corner, and that my friends is how we can change all this stuff.  Somehow, “they” seem to have forgotten, you can run a country with all chiefs and no Indians.     Jan)



  1. Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally
    suggest to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited
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    Comment by Raelene Brilla — October 10, 2013 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

    • Thank you — it’s going to take more organized effort to get a handle on all these inequities, and we surely must before our country is totally destroyed. Sorry I said that — I can’t accept that such a dire thing could happen. Jan

      Comment by Jan Turner — October 10, 2013 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

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