One of my favorite topics: Is the middle class disappearing? Scott Winship says, “no.” For the record, Scott Winship works at Brookings and this was published in the National Review–so let’s set aside our instinctive ideological context filters, which aren’t designed for such radical complexity.
[Council of Economic Advisors chair Alan] Krueger’s claim of a shrinking middle class relies on the same peculiar definition. Specifically, “middle class” is defined as having a household income at least half of median income but no more than 1.5 times the median. I re-ran the numbers using the same definition and data source as Krueger and found that the entire reason the middle class has “shrunk” is that more households today have incomes that put them above middle class. That’s right, the share of households with income that puts them in the middle class or higher was 76 percent in 1970 and 75 percent in 2010—two figures that are statistically indistinguishable. For that matter, I am not discovering fire here; Third Way made the same point in early 2007… A shrinking middle class is only a problem if it reflects fewer people reaching the middle class. That is clearly the impression the administration wants to give, but it is entirely dishonest to do so.
The whole thing is good. Read it. That’s an order.