Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Why We Need to Care About the Lower Middle Class

In a thought-provoking piece, Vauhini Vara dissects the meaning of what it is to be lower-middle-class (30% of families in America) and why it matters.

“Many of these lower-middle-class families [(with annual incomes between $15,000 and $60,000)] are still struggling to get by … All told, more than thirty per cent of lower-middle-class people receive food stamps, unemployment benefits, welfare, or other benefits.”

“This matters for a couple of reasons. It reframes how we think about the people who access government benefits. Many of them, it turns out, are married, college educated, and working—that is, people whose choices reflect traditional values and whose plight should inspire sympathy from both the political left and right. And it highlights the structural problems that make it difficult for lower-middle-class families to make ends meet and to rise into a higher income bracket.”

Vara contends that an understanding of this demographic group is critical in formulating policies to address inequality.

In recent years, the cultural conversation about inequality has focused on the rich and poor themselves … But the problem … is structural. Over time, we have set up an economic system that breeds inequality.

 

  • Alun Palmer

    Well, duh!

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