Is the middle class shrinking?

An article in Time magazine asked the question “Is the middle class shrinking?”

Millions of citizens, (some economists) contend, have lost their middle-class jobs in aging industries like autos and steel and have plunged into the minimum-wage realm of floor mopping and hamburger flipping. By failing to halt the middle-class shrinkage, the argument goes, the U.S. could allow itself to become a two-tiered society of rich and poor. Declares M.I.T. Economics Professor Lester Thurow: “Wherever one looks, one now finds rising inequality.”

Sounds a lot like the arguments and worries raised in last year’s election, but it’s actually an article from 1986.

Twenty-seven years on, the middle class still exists. But anxiety about its future still looms. This is from a recent report by the AP:

Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over (during this recession).

And the situation is even worse than it appears.

Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.

They’re being obliterated by technology.

On Friday, February 1, we’ll talk about the future of middle class jobs and the threat posed to them by technology. Can you be replaced by a computer?