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Now, it would be great to look at mobility, control for immigration, look at benefits, etc. But, according to these US Census figures, it appears that while the percentage of American households in poverty has fallen substantially since 1970 (it has creeped up since September 11th), the percentage of American households that are doing well has increased dramatically. Perhaps the NY Times should have included the following statistics in its 10-part series on class in America.

  1. The percentage of all households with real incomes exceeding $75,000 went from 11.6% in 1970 to 26.7% in 2004.

  2. This improvement has also happened for African American households, as only 3.7% of households earned $75,000 in 1970 and approximately 13.8% in 2004.

  3. Overall real household incomes rose from an average of $42,133 in 1970 to $60,528 in 2004.

Based on these figures, it appears that more and more Americans are entering the ranks of the middle, upper-middle and upper-classes each year. Even if that were not true, our incredible wealth today would be unthinkable to our ancestors from even only two generations ago. Ask yourself the question, would you rather be a lower- or lower-middle class American in 2005, or would you rather be in the top 1/2 percent of the income distribution in 1750? Consider that our life expectency today is pushing 80, in 1750 it was pushing 30. Consider that everyone of us today enjoys indoor plumbing. Consider that our ability to remain well fed does not depend on the mysterious weather gods. The list can go on. Just think of why this is the case.

Even if the doom and gloomers are right, and the U.S. economy is becoming more unequal, here are 5 reasons why you might not want to spend too much energy worrying about the “distribution of income.”

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