The American middle-class certainly has reason to be bummed. The worst downturn since the Great Depression has been followed by an unusually weak recovery. Unemployment remains high. Median wages are still below their pre-recession peak. And if all of that weren’t bad enough, the New York Times’ new Upshot site offers this additional bit of discouraging news: “The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest.”
Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.