What Role Can Health Care Reform Play in Restoring Middle Class Prosperity?

September 30, 2009, by Isabel Sawhill

“Much of the rhetoric coming out of Washington these days is about improving the lives of the middle class. For example, the Vice President’s Middle Class Task Force is focused on “raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America.” The choice of language here is politically astute since 92 percent of all Americans consider themselves either middle class or working class, according to the National Opinion Research Center. Even people with annual incomes as high as $200,000 say they are “middle class.”

Taking a more limited but still broad approach and defining the middle class as the 60 percent of the population that had household incomes between $20,000 and $100,000 in 2007, we find that this group has not exactly prospered in recent years. Indeed, since 2000 their real incomes have fallen after decades of only modest increases, especially for those in the lower end of this range.

Moreover, much of any gain they’ve experienced is related to the fact that more of these families now have two earners and not because their wages have grown in line with productivity, as noted in both the Vice President’s Task Force and in Creating an Opportunity Society.”

Read full blog post here.

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