How Chicago lost its middle class
According to a WBEZ article, the middle class in Chicago has been steadily shrinking since the 1970s and today is nearly nonexistent, an unsettling trend predicted by many.
Jeff Carter of West Loop Ventures believes the middle class is leaving the city for many reasons, including taxes and regulations.
"City regulations have increased costs tremendously," Carter told the Chicago City Wire. "There are business regulations that increase the costs for independent business people that they cannot afford. National chains can spread the cost of those regulations out over their entire operations, so small independent businesses go out of business while Taco Bell moves in."
According to WBEZ's article, wealthy demographics are moving into the North Side, replacing middle-class families that are unable to afford living in the city because of tax increases. Carter said it is not uncommon to see families leaving not only the city but also the state and the entire region, as they seek communities where they can afford to live and pay the taxes.
"Take a trip to Nashville, Jacksonville. Booming. Property taxes are significantly less. Income taxes are 0 percent. User fees are far less," Carter said. "Once you make the mental decision to leave Illinois, it’s likely that you will go anywhere there is opportunity, not just neighboring states."
Another challenge for middle-class families is the shift in the types of industries that are thriving, replacing jobs that no longer exist in Chicago.
"It used to be you could go to the trading floor and make millions of dollars with no education," Carter said. "There are no opportunities like that in Chicago today for middle-class people or people that don’t have extensive educations. We have become a city of accountants, consultants, doctors, lawyers and investors."