PI Original Adam Doster Thursday June 12th, 2008, 1:31pm

Chicago's Shrinking Middle Class

Is the middle class disappearing? Michael Lind theorized this was the case back in 2004, writing that America had "always also been an economic paradise for the middle class--at least until now." A new and comprehensive report by the Brookings Institution provides ...

Is the middle class disappearing? Michael Lind theorized this was the case back in 2004, writing that America had "always also been an economic paradise for the middle class—at least until now." A new and comprehensive report by the Brookings Institution provides numerical support for his argument, showing that in this new era of economic stratification, the middle class is most certainly shrinking in metropolitan regions like Chicago.

According to the report, Chicagoland's middle class population -- defined as those who earn between 80 percent and 150 percent of their metro area’s median income -- declined by 14 percent between 1970 and 2005, the eighth-largest drop of the 100 metropolitan areas studied. Crain's pulls out some other interesting findings:

- Of adults 25 and older, 31.6% had a bachelor’s degree. That put Chicago roughly in line with the 30.6% average of all 100 metro areas.

- The disparity between workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale was the 10th worst of all 100 metro areas. The top 10% of employees earned 6.3 times more than the bottom 10% of Chicago’s workforce.

For those left in the middle, times are pretty tough too.

In April, Pew released a massive survey that found fewer Americans than at any time in the past 50 years now believe they're moving forward in life. To be sure, each presidential candidate is hitting on these themes, claiming their economic policies better address rising insecurity. A new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center suggests one presidential candidate's plan falls well short:

An analysis of both campaigns proposals by the Washington-based, nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that for people with incomes between $66,354 and $111,645, Obama's proposals would cut their taxes by more than $1000, compared to around $300 under McCain's plan. But for Americans with incomes above $603,402, Obama would raise their taxes dramatically, by more than $115,000 a year, while McCain would cut them by $45,000.

(h/t Gapers Block)

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