One of Evanston Now’s frequent commenters claimed yesterday that “Evanston lacks a majority middle class.”
He suggested that Evanston is unlike most of America because it has more rich and poor people and fewer in the middle.
We don’t usually have time to try to research the assertions our commenters make, but that sounded like a particularly interesting one, and it was a slow morning for news today, so we did a little digging and found what you see in the chart above, data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2010-2014 which splits household income into six brackets.
Now, one of the elusive things about the term “middle class” is that nobody agrees on where the middle ends and the upper and lower begin.
But if you look at the chart, you can see that Evanston has slightly fewer people in the lowest income bracket, and slightly more people in the two highest income brackets than the State of Illinois or the nation as a whole.
Combining the three brackets that cover the income range of $25,000 to $100,000, Evanston has 52 percent of its households in that range, Illinois has 53 percent and the nation has 54 precent.
So, if that’s the middle, we look a lot more like the rest of the country than you might suppose. And perhaps we do have the “sizable and healthy middle class” that the commenter sees as “characteristic of a healthy society.”
And it would appear that about half of our skew toward the upper income side of the range can be attributed to relatively higher income levels across the state of Illinois, compared to the nation as a whole.