We're the 49.7 Percent

The Occupy protests in California and elsewhere have dwelled on the sins of the richest 1 percent among us. But they've said relatively little about the so-called 99 percent.

The Public Policy Institute of California has filled in that gap with a new report showing that the middle class -- categorized as households with incomes between $44,000 and $155,000 annually -- to less than half of all families. A generation ago, 60 percent of California families were middle income.

What's changed? The recession has hurt people across the income spectrum in California -- but it's been particularly tough on people who make less. Cuts in jobs and hours account for much of the decline, the report says.

What could this mean politically? Declining incomes means that it may be even more difficult to convince Californians to vote to tax incomes at higher rates, as some ballot initiatives propose to do. But it also provides an opportunity for political leaders who can devise policies to put more money into people's hands, and figure out ways to make it easier for employers to give people more hours and more jobs.

Easier said than done.

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