Donald Trump is rising because the US middle class has crashed

Posted by K R on

There’s no secret behind America’s groundswell of support for Donald Trump, the political outsider whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination threatens rip the party of Lincoln asunder. Trump supporters—who pushed him to victory in key Republican nominating contests in Mississippi and Michigan on Tuesday—are disproportionately older whites without college diplomas. Today, these folks are usually referred to as “working-class.” But at the heart of Trump’s appeal is the uncomfortable fact that they used to be something else. These people used to be America’s middle class. Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published an interesting bit of research. The paper showed that “middle class” living standards have declined much more drastically than other metrics—such as median household income—would suggest. Analysts at the bank took survey data and sorted respondents by demographic criteria such as race, age, and education level, rather than income. They defined “middle class” families as those families “headed by someone at least 40 years old who is white or Asian with exactly a high school diploma, or black or Hispanic with a two- or four-year college degree.” These were the demographic profiles typical of people at the center of the US income distribution—the middle class—back when the same survey was first taken in the late 1980s. Read More: Quartz

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