Who is the 'middle class' anyway?

Why are so many people in the middle class struggling right now? Author Hedrick Smith discusses the events that hurt the middle class and what can be done to help it.

This week, President Obama is traveling around the country to talk about some "bold ideas" to help the middle class. But who  is in the "middle class?"

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median hourly wage was $16.71. Loggers, truck drivers, jewelers, animal breeders, dental assistants, tax preparers and travel agents all make about that much.

Sewer pipe cleaners make a little less at $16.36 an hour. So do medical transcriptionists. Would you rather repair septic tanks or translate medical jargon?

Secretaries make a little more than the median at $16.99. And reporters come in at $17.25.

Managers, chief executives, family doctors, lawyers and judges all make some of the highest hourly earnings, of course. But information research scientists ($49.13) software developers ($47.59), mathematicians ($48.73), aerospace engineers ($49.87), physicists ($51.37), political scientists (49.04) pharmacists ($56.09) and prosthodontists ($81.31) do pretty well too.

Some of the lowest earners make $9.44 or less: cooks, waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, maids and cashiers. Also low on the wage ladder: animal care workers ($9.60), gaming dealers ($8.96), manicurists ($9.24) and childcare workers ($9.38).

Then there are the median-wage jobs that most of us have never even heard of: roustabouts ($16.41), fallers ($16.95) and glaziers ($18.08).

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Hmmm, OhioKen. You say you'd be set for life if you and your wife could make a combined income between $100,000 and $150,000 for a single year? I wonder what you do for a living and what you have done to increase your earning potential. Seems like you just need to make the investment in yourself and then you'd be sitting pretty. But, because $150,000 a year goes very quickly, I suggest you spend it wisely.

This article only tries to define the middle class by wages earned which is highly subjective. What is a middle class wage in Canton, Ohio where I live would be a below poverty rate wage in New York City. What everyone is failing to do is to give a clear cut definition to what exactly is the middle class. While I once considered myself to be middle class I now feel that I am slowly but surely sinking into the lower class. And therefore is the main problem confronting our society! The gap between the lower and upper class in our society is widening at a frightening pace while the middle class is slowly disappearing. In the last presidential election both candidates and parties seemed to think that the middle class in America has a family income of somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 a years. If my wife and I could have just one year at those wages we would be set for the rest of our lives. Completely ignored in all the hubbub about the middle class are the poor in our country who are sinking ever lower into an economic abyss.

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