NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Middle Class Growing In The South

June 27, 1998

Long one of America's poorest regions, incomes in the South have grown faster than those in the country as a whole over the past 30 years. And the Southern middle class is expanding, according to a study from MDC, of Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Southern incomes are now 92 percent of the national average, and 64 percent of all southern white families could be considered middle-class or above as of 1994.
  • But only 35 percent of black families could be placed in that category.
  • As the region has become more affluent, more income has flowed to fewer families, according to the survey -- not only overall, but within different racial groups.
  • Although there are more middle-class blacks in the South today, disparities between rich and poor blacks have become sharper than they used to be.

Median net worth for southern white families was $68,660 in 1994. For blacks, the figure was $18,800.

Yet while southern blacks have a median net worth of a little more than a quarter that of whites, the figure nationally is only one-fifth that of whites.

Source: "Lagging Dixie," Economist, June 27, 1998.


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