While the nation turns its attention to the political conventions, the middle class grows “fewer, poorer, gloomier,” according to a recent Pew Research poll.
Over the past decade, the American middle class “has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some — but by no means all — of its characteristic faith in the future,” Pew reports.
Professor Marcus D. Pohlmann calls for a “middle-class’ impact statement” in new legislation in a recent op-ed in Market Watch.
“To remain viable as a society,” Pohlmann writes, “the United States must be conscious of just how important it is to have a stable middle class. And a reasonable first step could be to reduce further damage by requiring the federal government to assess the middle-class impact of every economic-related policy. ”
Of those polled who consider themselves middle class, 85 percent say that it is harder to maintain their standard of living today than it was ten years ago.
Pew’s definition includes both the statistical middle in terms of income as well as those who self-identify as “middle-class.” Even the latter category has declined over the last decade.
The survey revealed that more of the middle class members are Democrats than Republicans, as are more lower class members.
The median household income has dropped over the last decade, from almost $73,000 to just over $69,000, as has the median net worth, which was $15,920 at the height of the economy, but today sits at $93,150.
Congress gets most of the blame according to the poll, though majorities also hold financial institutions and large corporations responsible.
Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s proposed tax plans tout benefits for the middle class, while Obama insists that the wealthiest American’s “pay their fair share.”
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