Also, the numbers for this map don't sync up with the "rich blocks, poor blocks" census maps of Chicago. For instance, these maps appear to show Portage Park and Jefferson Park as low-income neighborhoods; that's not what the 2010 census map shows (substantially above the state median!), nor what anyone would expect if they were familiar with those neighborhoods, which are both middle class enclaves. In the 2010 census maps, as soon as Austin gives way to Belmont-Cragin, we're back into middle class neighborhoods on the west side.
This map also has Mt. Greenwood as a poor neighborhood. Unless we suddenly stopped paying cops and firefighters, that seems pretty unlikely. Someone else familiar with the city got an idea of what's going on here?
First, the definition of "middle class" they're using is literally average Chicago income, not fixed to some inflation adjusted amount or compared to the U. S. as a whole. I didn't see at a glance if that average income changed over the time. If the average income rose, but the distribution changed, that's not necessarily the middle class being "almost gone".
Also, there's a lot on uncontrolled confounders here. Age is a big one. It mentions that half of census regions saw their average income decline by 20% but that of those regions the majority of people there are under 19 (!).
So one interpretation of the data could be that the city as a whole got richer but a few small areas stopped having kids.
If the middle class have largely collapsed into the poor, and the poor now live as the middle class did - that implies that for the formerly middle class there has been no growth in fifty years.
While people may be living equivalent lifestyles it's through the consolidation of core needs and improvements in efficiency (that were never passed onto workers as it happens, which is part of why the middle class is collapsing). But importantly these were applied to what used to be luxuries. If there is no one around to purchase the luxuries in bulk how will we will we ever innovate their production to a scale where they become cheap. If the market is not big enough to sustain competitors, how will we ever innovate on features. If people with ideas to change the world they live in don't have the capital to try it where does that hobbyist innovation come from.
I could go on and on, but the key fact is that the middle class are the primary consumers of everything. Additionally, nearly half of the tax burden is met by the middle class (with the other half being mostly corporate taxes). Suffice it to say the middle class is the linchpin to modern economies.
It wouldn't be if that were the case but it doesn't seem to be. Middle class 50 years ago usually meant raising kids in a house on a single income, something that few can do today. We might have more stuff and more entertainment options, but that's not what matters.
I buy a lot of board games, and I’ve noticed how discussions on $100 kickstarters have started being about how it could break someone’s budget. I’m personally part of the Scandinavian middle class, and a hall mark of that, is that you can spend $100 on something silly and not worry about it.
It’s extremely poor data of course, but it’s something I just never saw 15 years ago.
But the eye opener is this. This is the change in the size of each economic group between 1979 and 2014 as a percent of the total population:
- Rich: 0.1% -> 1.8%
- Upper Middle Class: 12.9% -> 29.4%
- Middle Class: 38.8% -> 32%
- Lower Middle Class: 23.9% -> 17.1%
- Poor or Near-Poor: 24.3% -> 19.8%
Since statistics like this are certainly subject to biased interpretation and 'massaging', this  is a wiki section on the political stance of the Urban Institute. In any case though the paper is very readable and methodology very transparent. I found it all eye opening to the point that it actually changed my worldview. America is doing something very right economically. Note the increase in the upper middle class is more than double the decline in the size of the middle class meaning in that time period you also saw people moving from poor or lower middle class to upper middle class.
I'd hypothesize that what you're seeing is simply less of a bubble. 15 years ago the internet was much more of a luxury and the individuals using it were reflective of that. Now it's ubiquitous and the class distributions are much more balanced.
 - https://www.urban.org/research/publication/growing-size-and-...
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Institute#Political_stan...
But we should not ignore these warnings.
I’m Danish though.
In 1970, 61 percent of Americans belonged to the middle class, said Kochhar, “a clear majority.” Using Pew’s methodology, that figure now hovers around 50 percent nationally.
What a hilariously narrow definition of “middle class”. That’s roughly $14.35 to $21.53 per hour.
This entire analysis is a waste of time.
Is the underlying data available? I’d love to take a crack at producing some better visualizations.
 - https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/health_da...
American cities have mostly 'business cores' anyhow, with big banking buildings, not like in Europe where they're pedestrian and have homes.
In some cities, there's been a renaissance of urban living and people moving back in since the 2000's, but it depends on the city.
My guess is that 80% of what's going on here is just that: demographic migration.
What we need is greater Chicago data and probably statewide as well.
I suspect you'll find the 'exaburbs' doing really well.
The "middle class" term should be replaced in our language with something more concrete. It's not even a class after all. It's just an arbitrary label that doesn't have any useful meaning.
Meanwhile people I know who make far less are getting great refunds and my rich friends don't notice anything different personally but their businesses are all saving money.
It would be nice to have some DEFINITIVE numbers that says what the class ranges are.
It seems like a moving target, and subject to wide interpretation.
What salary ranges constitute poverty? middle class? upper-middle class? upper class? insane 1%?
Is there even anything definitive to point to for these numbers?
Perhaps we ought to lower the cost of living (https://www.econlib.org/yimby/) in Chicago, along with other cities like New York and Boston.
I think Chicago’s taxation is the problem. The taxes are the highest in the nation and have scared off the middle class.
That's a very soft way of saying "we have a super, mega, ridiculous pension crisis sucking the city dry"
While there may be some exceptions, they are indeed the exception. This holds true everywhere. These  are data for the US as a whole contrasting fertility vs income. Once again those earning less than $10,000 have a fertility rate more than 20 points higher (150%) the rate of those earning $200k+ per year. And there is a disconcertingly smooth gradient in between. As an aside there are also strong links between fertility and low education and high religiosity as well as low income.
Think about what this means for each generation of children. An ever larger portion of children end up coming from these families with low income, low education, and high religiosity. And now this even larger portion of society will go on to spread their genes in a comparable way meaning you'll see an even higher chunk of children from the next generation coming from these groups. Poverty gets turned into a virus. Bringing people out of poverty might be a solution if not for the fact that then when people emerge from poverty, they stop having as many children.
And another issue here is that fertility rate understates the issue! When one group has the same number of children but has them younger, this has a direct effect on 'real' fertility rates. Imagine there are two groups with an identical fertility rate. However, one has children at 15 years of age on average, and another on 30 (using these numbers only for convenient math). By the time the 30 group has had their child the 15 group has had a child, and that child is now also having a child! You have the exact same fertility rate on paper, but in terms of population impact the young group has a 100% greater fertility rate.
Ultimately people who can in no way expect to be able to provide even a half decent upbringing for children need to stop having so many children. At the same time people who actually can afford to help provide a great life for a new generation need to stop being so self centered and do just that. Until that happens what do people expect to see? You're going to see poverty spreading rapidly even if it was holding completely level simply because you'll see more new people in poor families.
Keep in mind the twisted nature of exponential growth. If you have a population of 10,000,000,000 with a fertility rate of 2 and then a population of 10 with a fertility rate of 4, that population of 10 will become the majority and in the longrun approach becoming 100% of the population. You cannot overstate the relevance of fertility rates if you at all care about socioeconomic issues.
 - https://data.cityofchicago.org/Health-Human-Services/Census-...
 - https://data.cityofchicago.org/Health-Human-Services/Public-...
 - https://www.statista.com/statistics/241530/birth-rate-by-fam...
I don't really abide either side of the political spectrum, but I do find this point salient. Chicago's successes, and failures, should come as a result of decisions made in Chicago, and to a lesser degree the whole of Illinois. States being held subject to decisions, outside of a very small set of shared minimal norms, from a completely detached governing body that lives very much in a bubble in D.C. is just quite a peculiar system. Having 2% representation in e.g. the Senate does not, in my opinion, markedly change this. Probably made a lot more sense when we had 13 colonies and a hundredth the national population.
When Warren Buffet says he’s avoiding doing business for the next few decades in certain regions due to the defined benefit pension debt, I would certainly be making sure I have backup options or a way out.
> if I were relocating into some state that had a huge unfunded pension plan I’m walking into liabilities. ’Cause I mean, who knows whether they’re gonna get it from the corporate income tax or my employees-- you know, with personal income taxes or what. But that-- that liability isn’t gonna-- you can’t ship it offshore or anything like that. And those are big numbers, really big numbers. And they may come--you can delay a long time. I mean, they-- you’re getting pushed maybe somewhat. But the politicians are the ones that really haven’t attacked it in a good many states. And when you see what they would have to do-- I say to myself, “Why do I wanna build a plant there that has to sit there for 30 or 40 years?” ’Cause I’ll be here for the life of the pension-- plan-- and they will come after corporations, they’ll come after individuals. They-- just-- they’re gonna have to raise a lotta money.
California is a formerly Red state, Texas is nearly blue.
It's not that the situation is the opposite of what you describe, it's that your nostrums are utterly incoherent and describe nothing of any accuracy.
They're usually huge bootlickers, bought and paid for by companies.
Edit: Downvote away, but if you tune to local public radio in San Diego & LA, some "Democrat" will often be banging on about how the #1 job of theirs is to ensure law and order. Democrats in other states don't usually prattle on about law and order, but its a special breed down there.
I lived in "Middle America" and I wouldn't say Chicago is representative of "Middle America" in general? But I only visited Chicago so perhaps someone from there can chime in and correct me.
Chicago just doesn't seem like a great bastion of "Deregulation".
It just seems like you are disproving your points here.
Now if we are talking stereotypes, besides deep dish pizza, one thing I think of when I think Chicago is corrupt politicians. The local news stations seems to agree at least:
Chicago's political system is dominated by public sector unions. Social welfare spending across the US, including in Chicago, has massively increased since 1970.
Meanwhile, on the regulatory front, the percentage of jobs requiring an occupational license increased from 5% in 1950, to about 25% today. Entire regulatory agencies were also created since 1970, including the EPA and OSHA.
Any broad-based measure of how regulated the economy is, like the size of the Code of Federal Regulations, shows regulations increasing in scope since 1970.
There has never been more regulations placed on businesses that deliver middle class wages. Trump may have rolled back a handful of redundant regs, but that's just a finger in the dike. Healthcare costs and costs of coverage continue to geometrically increase because of government interference. IIRC, employer-provided healthcare may even be diminishing in some fashion. Not sure.
As for IP laws, I'm not sure how you're relating that to the collapse of the US/Western middle class, but I'm sure you have a reason to mention it.
Cap gains is only one kind of tax, moreover, the 'top rate' is just one factor in it.
Overall - tax receipts as a % of GDP have roughly been steady  or going up a little bit.
(Hint: tax rates going up or down don't mean that tax receipts go up or down in unison. Lower taxes could possibly mean more tax revenue etc.)
As for Chicago, there might be specific factors.
My unscientific hunch is that the middle class moved out, the crappy neighbourhoods expanded, and some neighbourhoods were taken over by migrants from poorer countries who don't have access/qualifications for higher skilled jobs.
Essentially the same story as many cities, without maybe the 2000's renaissance we've seen elsewhere with people coming back to the urban core.
It would be nice to look at the entire Chicago region.