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America Medians of the Millennium

Every ten years America is questioned, recorded, and given a basic overview of how well the country is flourishing financially and economically. The Census Bureau goes through strenuous hours of work and study to provide statistics and comparisons informing citizens of our progress and downfalls of the past century. In an essay by Andrew Hacker, a renowned professor at Queens College, he describes the 1990 census report by creating a fictional family of characters called the Medians. The Medians, in his essay, represent the average household of America as the census report of 1990 portrayed them. Hacker presents the average income, job insecurity and basic way of life in which he ends with predicting a slow change for the worse by the next report in the year 2000. With the economy slowly dipping into a possible recession I can see the prediction made by Hacker eventually becoming a reality.

If constructed, how would the median family of the new millennium live and what would their future have in store for them? Through the research of the latest 2000 report, Hacker would be rather surprised that there has not been a drastic decline financially and socially. On that note, nor has there been a drastic incline either. Of course, not everything is as it was in the early ’90s but for the most part, the median family are still treading the same water, just on the edge of a possible troubling future.

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In an article from the Wall Street Journal, Patrick Barta delivers the results and his views on the 2000 report. The article is titled American Poverty Fell To Lowest Level Since ‘73. Barta begins his article with the fact that the poverty level has reached the lowest point since 1973. He talks about how 31.1 million Americans now live in poverty which is down an amazing 1.1 million from the early 1990s (Barta). Barta doesn’t go into a lot of detail about his views, but along with Hacker, he sees the potential for trouble in the future. The reason for this pessimistic outlook is simple. One major factor would be the high-tech boom that opened jobs and sent dot-comer’s incomes through the roof is now slowly folding if not already fizzled into nothing. Unemployment is on the rise and layoffs continue. It’s no help either that due to the horrifying terrorist attacks of September 11, the local and national press repeatedly speak of cutbacks and inevitable recession.

As for our median family for the new millennium, I have composed a family to represent the nation’s middle-class family. Meet the Averages, their names are Mike and Sara Average. They are a white, working-class family enduring the early years of a fresh marriage. Like the Medians from Hacker’s essay, the Averages live their lives very similar with only minor changes. For starters, the average income dropped slightly from $42,187 to $42,148, as did that of the Medians (Barta). This, by all means, is not an enormous drop but over the years this could pose a problem. Mr. Average, who works full time, saw his income drop for the first time in four years. On the other hand, Mrs. Average’s income working similar hours as her husband experienced no significant change. Her income still stays far below that of men. When it comes to their jobs, the Averages have been facing a rising unemployment rate that has risen from 3.9% to 4.9% in only a matter of one year (Barta). Economists expect this percentage to rise even further within the next few years. This leads to believe Hacker was not far off on his prediction of a tarnished future for generations to come.

Though these statistics and harsh realities seem rather depressing and disheartening, there is still hope for the Averages, and the families to come after them for that matter. With all the cons must come the pros. For instance, the gap between the rich and the poor stayed effectively unchanged last year from a slowly widening gap in years before which shows that the economy could possibly be evening out for a change (Barta). If the Averages were an African American couple things would look much more positive. For example, the median African American household’s income rose 5.5% to a record $30,439, while poverty fell to a record low of 22.1%(Barta). Many things will still remain the same for the Averages when compared to the Medians, but it’s obvious the other groups of ethnicity are prospering slowly but surely.

What is to come of the Averages in the approaching years? Nothing good, unfortunately. The country is in a hitting slump, recent attacks on America not only shattered a city, but it just made a bad situation worse. Recession is the word on the streets and there is no doubt that we will soon see one. We are facing an extremely fast-growing population and the majority of the blame goes to immigration. Everyone seems to be chasing after the American dream and there simply aren’t enough jobs for everyone. The amount of layoffs is up, job security is becoming a thing of the past and unemployment is climbing higher every year. The Averages definitely have a tough road ahead. Looking at the results of the 2000 census report shows an economy and country that is only going to get worse before it gets better.

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America Medians of the Millennium. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from