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.