Friday, February 02, 2007

Nick Cohen on middle class poverty

I didn't think it could be possible that Nick Cohen's articles on other topics would be worse than his pieces on Iraq. But it is true. Three week ago in the Evening Standard he went on a rant about "Labour were losing the South" because of the rising cost of living for a couple on....100,000 a year.

Take a standard young couple who want to have children...They both have good jobs - he's in human resources, she's at the BBC - but every penny of the Pounds 100,000 a year they bring in shoots back out again.

The difference now is that it [London] is a hard city for the middle class. The modest ambition to live an ordinary life is beyond the means of hundreds of thousands in jobs their parents assumed would guarantee them a secure future.

A 'standard young couple' - 100,000 a year!

It never fails to suprise me the extent to which these upper middle-class journalist types who live in Islington or similar have no idea about how much most people earn. Median household income in the UK in 2004/2005 was 24,700. London's median income is slightly higher, but not much (mean income in London is much higher) so it's probably currently a little under 30,000. The lower limit of the upper decile of the household income distribution, ie the point where only 10% of households earn more than yours, is 53,209. A couple, both working, might earn more than this (but if they're young, they might not), but there's no way 100,000 is typical. Cohen's couple are going to be in the top 3-4% of the income distribution, even in London.

I'm not saying that people in this income bracket do not have money concerns. But they clearly don't have the money concerns of those on half or a quarter of that level.