L.A.'s Middle Class Is Now a Minority

L.A.'s Middle Class Is Now a Minority
File photo by Ryan Vaarsi/Flickr

Those angry right-wingers who want to rewind us back to the 1950s might have a point.

While they're a bit twisted about postwar America, a time when taxes on the rich were much higher, education was well-funded by people who still sent their kids to public schools, and even the under-educated could luck out with the help of a Big Government G.I. Bill, one thing is true: The middle class ruled back then.

Today, not so much.

The same folks who complain about this not being the '50s have pulled their kids from public schools, fought against tax increases and balked at funding infrastructure repairs and improvements. Then they complain about how crappy things are today.

The Pew Research Center this week issued a report update on "America’s Shrinking Middle Class" as it pertains to U.S. cities.

Of course Los Angeles made a strong showing.

"In about a quarter of the metropolitan areas in 2014, middle-class adults do not constitute a clear majority of the adult population," the Pew report states. "Notably, many of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas fall into this group, including Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA, where 47 percent of adults were middle income; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA (48 percent); New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (48 percent); Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA (49 percent); and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (49 percent)."

Yep, the middle is now the minority in Los Angeles. Of course, it's not a minority in strict terms. It's a plurality, meaning that more people belong to the middle class than any other income group. But it's clearly a shrinking group.

"In the Los Angeles region," Pew says, "the middle class is relatively small because the share of adults who are lower income is greater than average."

Indeed, our individual median income of $27,897 is a few grand more than poverty pay for a family of four. It's low.

Yet our median home price of $575,000, by one account, is mansion money in many other cities. You can start to see here that the much talked-about American gulf between rich and poor thrives in L.A.

Los Angeles isn't alone.

"From 2000 to 2014, the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data," Pew says. "The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally."

Let's get our middle back. Let's elect a billionaire as president!


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