Quinn will outline plans to strengthen the city’s middle class and ideas to help those trying to access it

New York, NY – Today, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn will release a New York City Council study titled, “The Middle Class Squeeze, a Report on the State of the City’s Middle Class.” The study shows the middle class as a percentage of the city is shrinking and details the striking economic challenges facing New York City’s middle class families. Key report findings include:

• New York City median middle class incomes have been declining while housing costs for middle class New Yorkers are rising.
• Since 2001, median rents for middle class households rose by 6.2%, the price of a condominium apartment increased by 47%.
• Manhattan and Brooklyn are ranked first and second with the most expensive housing costs in America. Queens is ranked 7th in housing costs out of 300 U.S. metropolitan areas.
• New York City’s middle class unemployment rate is 6.2%, three times higher than it was in 2008 and 75% higher than in 1989.
• In 1989, more than half of the city’s working age high school graduates were in the middle class. Today only a third are in the middle class.

Today, in her State of the City Address, Speaker Quinn will outline significant plans to strengthen the city’s middle class and ideas to help those trying to access it.

“For the past eight years, the Council has worked to improve the lives of middle class New Yorkers,” said Speaker Quinn. “We’ve focused on making neighborhoods safer, improving schools, and supporting small businesses. Clearly the middle class wants to be here, but it’s getting harder to stay. This report demonstrates the need to address long-term housing costs, develop opportunities for middle class workers and to help create a New York City that middle class families continue to seek out as a place to call home.”

“The Middle Class Squeeze” is an update to a City Council report issued in December of 1997 entitled “Hollow in the Middle, the Rise and Fall of New York City’s Middle Class.” Both today’s report and the 1997 study found:

• The middle class is shrinking as a percentage of the city’s working age population.
• Higher education is the best route to access to the middle class; it is getting more difficult for high school educated workers to enter the middle class.

The Director of the Center for Urban Research at CUNY’s Graduate Center, John Mollenkopf said, “This superb sequel to the 1997 City Council report ‘Hollow in the Middle’ unpacks what has happened in the subsequent period and why. The relatively well-paid college graduate population has been rising; however, this has not been enough to offset the squeezes on the middle class and the negative effect of the last sharp down turn and the slow recovery. This report will help policy makers address the needs of the city’s middle class and keep a healthier balance in our city.”

“Speaker Quinn’s release of this report could not be more timely. This report identifies the most serious economic challenges that will face New York City’s next mayor. Most significantly, the middle class share of the city’s working age population is shrinking. New York City’s future will depend on leaders who understand how to keep New York City’s middle class population growing while developing the economic and social policies that move our low-income population into the middle class,” said Ester R. Fuchs, Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science, Columbia University.

“The Middle Class Squeeze, a Report on the State of the City’s Middle Class” is an analysis conducted by the New York City Council Finance Division. The report is based primarily on data obtained from the Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement to the Community Population Survey (CPS). The survey and supplement are maintained through the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.