Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Goodbye to the Middle Class

The Wall Street Journal has created three neat mapped visualizations of how the middle class in Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore have suffered at the expense of the super rich.

In The Carving Out of the Urban Middle Class the WSJ uses 3d choropleth maps to visualize the dominant income groups living in city neighborhoods in 1970, 1990 and 2014. By toggling through the dates on each of the city maps you can clearly see how the middle income neighborhoods ($50,001 - $70,000) have dwindled in number in each of the three cities.

If the maps only visualized the dominant income groups in each neighborhood then there might be a possibility that these middle income groups may simply be hidden on the maps. For example the middle class could have moved to areas with a high percentage of the super rich or be more spatially distributed around the city than before. There may also be a possibility that the once middle class have also now all moved up into the super rich bracket.

However each map also shows the percentage of each income group living in the city for the three dates visualized. For example - in 1970 36% of the population in Philadelphia were in the $50,001 - $70,000 income bracket. In 2014 this had almost halved to 18.5%. Over the same period the percentage earning less than $30,000 in Philadelphia rose from 16.2% to 32.5%.

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