The Middle Class Is Doing Just Fine
People often comment that back in the 1960s households only needed one breadwinner.
The wife stayed home and raised the kids while hubby went off to toil in the trenches to bring home the bacon and they made out just fine.
Now the cry goes out that the middle class of those days is gone and now it takes two breadwinners working duel jobs just the keep their heads above water.
Defining The Middle Class
In September of 2017 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that real median household income was $59,039 in 2016, exceeding any previous year.
Montana’s median household income in 2015 was $51,395.
In the grand scheme of things $59 grand doesn’t seem like a lot of income when new pickup trucks cost about $10 thousand more.
In order to make that much you’d be paid $28.38/hr. for a full time job. I think most of us would be happy to be making anywhere near $30 an hour.
So why aren’t the middle class living high on the hog? Why two jobs, why paycheck-to-paycheck?
Perhaps it’s the definition of the middle class that needs revising.
How Does Today’s Middle Class Live?
Twenty years ago the richest man on earth couldn’t buy a device that does what the iPhone can do.
We put a man on the moon with less computer power than your burner phone.
As I write this on my laptop computer — that would have made my parents business much easier — with my smart phone nearby I’m watching one of a gazillion channels available to me on my large flat screen TV.
The Internet is at my disposal to find any obscure fact I might need such as the median household income of Montana in 2015.
Tomorrow I’ll hop in my computerized SUV that will tell me if the doors aren’t closed, or my tires might be low, if a headlight or taillight is out, alone with time and temperature, with digitized heat and air conditioning for perfect comfort no matter the weather, an AM-FM radio and CD player for my listening pleasure.
Unfortunately I don’t have heated cup holders or heated seats. It’s an older SUV. The wife really wants those heated seats. Especially this time of year.
If I get lost going anywhere I have GPS on my phone that will quickly correct my route and get me where I’m going.
If I break down a tow truck is a call away.
Our parents had none of these modern conveniences yet we all seem to have the majority of these devices as part of our normal daily lives.
Most of us would be lost without them.
If you’ve spent any time in a hospital waiting room no one is looking at the outdated magazines.
Almost everyone has his or her cell in hand texting, reading or exploring the World Wide Web, TV shows or movies are at our fingertips.
Some Final Thoughts
I’d say the middle class is doing pretty well compared to our parents. But none of these things I mentioned above are critical to a good life.
We really don’t need cable TV or the Internet or a smart phone but living paycheck-to-paycheck with these minor luxuries seems to be the preferred lifestyle to most people.
So before talking about the disappearance of the middle class think about the prosperity the middle classes enjoy — at their own request.
Money or stuff? Looks like stuff is winning out. Long live the middle classes. Comments below.