Do you consider yourself to be middle class?” I was asked this question the other day by a “middle class” 40 something year old white lady. Wth????? I didn’t actually voice that out loud, but that was the look on my face. I know it because that’s exactly what was going through my mind. What I said to her was, “I can’t really answer that question as being one or the other because honestly I’m a combination of middle and working class.”
This question brought up a very interesting dialogue between us and it got me to thinking seriously about what it means to be part of the middle class. If you look up the definition of middle class this is what comes up: The social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business workers and their families.
Hmm. Well that’s very interesting because technically I fit into that category along with my family. I am a professional, have the degrees to prove it, the employment history to back that up. Yet at the end of the day, what I earn for what I do sure doesn’t add up to what I would consider to be a middle class income. I actually would land somewhere closer to the working class if I’m gonna just be real about it.
“Middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change,” President Obama told Congress and the public during the State of the Union address.
Now let’s talk about financial status for just a moment or two. According to Robert Reich, a professor of Public Policy at the University of California-Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor, he suggests that the middle class be defined as households making 50 percent higher and lower than the median, which puts the average middle class annual income somewhere between $25,500 to $76,500.
Now in the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were actually in the middle class, earning roughly about $35,000 to $100,000 a year. From my perspective, few people noticed or really cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more folks climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.
The sad reality is, as the middle class has shrunk, its composition has changed, and folks in the middle class today enjoy less opportunity, job security, and disposable income than earlier generations did. And if you strike up a conversation with someone you will find that only a small percentage of folks actually consider it realistic that they can meet such basic financial goals as paying for their children’s college, retiring comfortably, or saving enough money to handle emergencies or unemployment.
The interesting thing is, everybody wants to be considered middle class whether they technically are or not, and no one wants to identify with the working class. Well guess what folks, most of us ARE a combination of the two classes! It’s just a commentary on where we are right now as a country financially speaking. The divide between the Working/Middle and Upper classes is becoming larger and larger and I don’t see an end in sight. I say this primarily because the “Haves” continue to blame the “Have Nots” for the state of society and are not willing to compromise nor do they (generally speaking of course) seem to have a sense of doing what is best for ALL as opposed to merely doing what is best for them and what will continue to keep them in their comfortable Upper Income plateau.
Smh. The Poor and Working/Middle Class all live in a separate reality than the 1% that make up the Upper Class. And the 1% are in charge of policies and make disastrous financial decisions that effect the rest of us who reside in the 99%. But of course, it’s our fault and of course those damn liberals and Democrats who feel like they need to even out the playing field and make it possible for the average family to not just survive but to actually Live. Of course this is just my opinion.
Ahh, I digress. The bottom line, when asked to define what it means to be part of the middle class, at this point what more can you ask for than having the ability to keep up with expenses which means bringing in more than you pay out, and holding a steady job while not falling behind or taking on too much debt.