Very cool interactive data on Class in America
The New York Times has a very cool graphic, How Class Works – New York Times, that displays the results of a data they gathered on social class. Their theory is that class is composed of four factors, occupation, education, income and wealth. Your social status is a combination of all four. On this web page, you can select your stats and see how you fit and you can play around and see how changing different factors could change your status.
One of the reasons this was interesting to me is that I currently manage a team of software developers, 65-73rd percentile (depends on whether you think programmers are information technologists or engineers). However, I’m going to massage school (for fun) and everyone keeps telling me not to quit my day job. Now I know why they might be saying that. Massage therapists are in the 16th percentile as far as occupational prestige goes. That’s regardless of what they make or how much education they have. Occupation is one of the four cards that affect your class according to this model.
Playing around further in the "How Class Breaks Down" tab, you can see that people in the "Computer, Math" field are almost exclusively in the top two fifths of income and almost all have at least some college. Pick "Health Support" (which is where massage therapy fits in) and you can watch the graph flip. Very few are in the top two fifths of income and very, very few have a college degree. (Although quite a few have some college which is probably massage school.)
The graph also shows data on income mobility and lots of other interesting data. It’s worth playing around with.