China, technology and the U.S. middle class”

Reuters; February 20, 2013

Even in a rel­a­tively pros­per­ous age — for all of today’s woes, we have left behind the dark, satanic mills and work­houses of the 19th cen­tury — this decline of the mid­dle class is more than an eco­nomic issue. It is also a polit­i­cal one. The main point of democ­racy is to deliver pos­i­tive results for the majority.

 

All of which is why under­stand­ing what is hap­pen­ing to the mid­dle class is urgently impor­tant. There is no bet­ter place to start than by talk­ing to David Autor, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Autor is one of the lead­ing stu­dents of the most strik­ing trend bedev­il­ing the mid­dle class: the polar­iza­tion of the job mar­ket. That is a nice way of say­ing the econ­omy is being cleaved into high-paying jobs at the top and low-paying jobs at the bot­tom, while the middle-skill and middle-wage jobs that used to form society’s back­bone are being hol­lowed out.