Conflict between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in American society, according to a survey released Wednesday.
About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are “strong conflicts” between rich and poor in the United States, a survey by the Pew Research Center found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.
[…] The demographics were surprising, experts said. While blacks were still more likely than whites to see serious conflicts between rich and poor, the share of whites who held that view increased by 22 percentage points, more than triple the increase among blacks. The share of blacks and Hispanics who held the view grew by single digits.
What is more, people at the upper middle of the income ladder were most likely to see conflict. Seventy-one percent of those who earned from $40,000 to $75,000 said there were strong conflicts between rich and poor, up from 47 percent in 2009. The lowest income bracket, less than $20,000, changed the least.
The grinding economic downturn may be contributing to the heightened perception of conflict between rich and poor, said Christopher Jencks, a professor of social policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
“Rich and poor aren’t terribly distinct from secure and unemployed,” he said.
The survey attributed the change, in part, to “underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society,” citing a finding by the Census Bureau that the share of wealth held by the top 10 percent of the population increased to 56 percent in 2009, from 49 percent in 2005.
I think most of us realize we’re one layoff away from poverty ourselves.
What’s actually happened with working and middle class wages along with the decline in unions? CEO pay has skyrocketed 300% since 1990, corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased 4%. The minimum wage has dropped.