New York City: Goodbye Middle Class

New York City has become the American capital of a national, as well as an international trend towards ever-increasing income inequality and declining social mobility, as many have bid its middle class goodbye. Mayor de Blasio has a great feat ahead if he wants to put an end to New York’s tale of two cities.

New York Daily Times reports that although there are actions that the new mayor can take to help, “the early signs are not promising that he will be able to reverse 30 years of hollowing-out of the city’s once vibrant middle class.”

New York has gone from a place where people “go to make it” to a place for those who “already have it made, or whose families have,” all the while as pay has stagnated, except for those at the very top, the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Further, New York’s rich are getting richer as the rest of the city is “barely holding on.”

Some purport that the downward mobility of the middle class is not by accident but an intentional movement.

The New York Post reports that author Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict (Telos Press Publishing) paints “a dire picture of the undeclared war on the middle class.” Where the “Oligarchy (Silicon Valley and Hollywood) and the Clerisy (the media, bureaucrats, universities, and nonprofits) enrich themselves and gratify their own strange obsessions at the expense of the middle class.”

The New Class is portrayed as venerating the city and despising suburbia. The article goes on to say that the New Class, “They think you should feel the same way—and in innumerable magazine and newspaper pieces, they twist facts to make it should as if America loves living in apartments and taking trains to work.”

It goes on to say that in Kotkin’s book, the new class consists of “entertainment and tech plutocrats” that are “cheered on and abetted by a priesthood of media, government, and academic elites.”

Now, the most unequal county in America is Manhattan (it was 17th in 1980), with a Gini coefficient—which measures the disparity between the richest and poorest residents—higher than that of Apartheid-era South Africa. This is the trend dating back to the legacy of billionaire Michael Bloomberg who envisioned New York as a “luxury city,” which won’t be easily reversed as de Blasio implements pricey new public-employee contracts and programs like universal pre-K. These will only increase the city’s dependence on its wealthiest citizens.

As a result of the city becoming more unequal economically, it also becomes more racially segregated. Demographer Daniel Herz’s census analysis reveals that New York is now America’s second-most racially divided city, behind Milwaukee. Additionally, according to a report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, New York City has the nation’s most segregated public school system.

The tension between the socioeconomic classes was brought to light last week when Zale Thompson, the self-radicalized Navy veteran attacked four NYPD police officers with a hatchet before being shot dead. Thompson said that he wanted to repay the whites for the injustices against blacks.

Thompson’s father, Ralph, says that his son was “radically in favor” of the Black Power movement in his youth and had only recently converted to Islam.

The reality is that “New York is losing its role as a place of opportunity, and the de Blasio toolbox is unlikely to put back the ladder that’s been pulled up.” The middle class exodus has been ongoing for the past 30 years with little hope of turning around, and for that reason many are saying goodbye to New York City’s middle class.

[Image via New York Daily News]