Accurately Measuring Middle Class Income Trends

From any angle, middle-class families have seen minimal market income increases even as the economy continues to grow.

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idea_bulbOn Wednesday, the Bureau of the Census will release its 2014 numbers for the most widely used barometer of middle-class financial health—median incomes. We expect real median income to have grown between 2013 and 2014, but even one year of robust growth likely would put the Census’ published number well below its 2000 level.

Nevertheless, several analysts have argued that technical and conceptual issues with the published median income numbers understate middle-class income growth. We analyze their arguments and find that journalists and policymakers can safely use the published Census data for an accurate picture of middle-class income growth without worrying that the decline is a result of an aging population or of another technical issue.

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