NYT: Recovery Lagging for Middle Class

According to the Census Bureau, income for the middle class fell 8 percent to its lowest level since 1995The New York Times severely understates the case saying that this "poses a challenge" for Barack Obama as he vies for a second term

According to the report, middle class income has fallen to a national average of $50,054 annually, close to what it was back in 1995. The Times finds this troublesome for the President.

That drop poses a political challenge for President Obama as he presents himself as a champion of the middle class and defends his economic stewardship in a tightly fought presidential race. The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is likely to seize on the decline as evidence of the president’s failure to fix an ailing economy. Mr. Obama, for his part, has emphasized the potentially damaging effects of Republican policies on the middle class.

Revealing a lopsided recovery, the same Census Bureau report does note that the top 5 percent of households have seen some recovery of lost income even as they "took a whack in the recession."

The Obama administration points to these statistics claiming that the "rich" need to be taxed more. But others disagree.

"Over the long run, the disappearing middle class has moved up, not down," said Douglas J. Besharov, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. "Too much redistribution will kill the goose that laid the golden egg."

The report also found that median household income fell by 1.5 percent thus far in 2011 and the new jobs created were not of the best quality.

During the recovery, about 3 in 5 of the new jobs created have been low-skill and low-wage -- taking people off the unemployment rolls and pulling some families out of poverty, but not providing a clear route to the middle class.

Americans are working harder for less money keeping many out of poverty but not helping them rise to higher levels of income.


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