There's more than one way to save a middle class

In our current “plutonomy”—a term coined by
Citigroup analysts back in 2005—economic growth is powered and largely consumed
by a wealthy few. Instead of a rising tide, we’re seeing a slow hollowing of
the middle class. To reverse this trend, author Don Peck advocates for both a
continued push for better schooling and the creation of clearer paths into
careers for people who don’t immediately go to college. It must be a
combination of the two, he argues: Over the past three decades, college
completion rates have risen by just 1 percentage point every four years. Peck
thinks that there is no reason to believe that, in our lifetimes, we’ll be able
to push this number up to the critical mass needed to keep our economic
waterwheel spinning. Instead, improving the quality and rigor of voch-tech
programs for adolescents—and opening pathways to profitable career tracks—may
well “determine whether the United States remains a middle-class country.” Sage
advice, think we.

Can
the Middle Class Be Saved?
,” by Don Peck, The Atlantic, September
2011.

More By Author