By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published May 14, 2009
Not long ago, everyone in America wanted to be a member of the “middle class.” In fact, as many as 53% of Americans described themselves that way to pollsters.
But with the information age and the rise of two-career incomes, being just middle class is a little old hat. The new aspiration for most Americans is to be a member of the new professional class. Rising numbers — as high as 64% — report that they consider themselves “professionals.” The census shows a significant rise over the years, from 4% being professionals and skilled workers in 1910, to 36% today. The numbers have doubled since just 1980.
These new professionals, whose incomes were rising steadily until the financial crisis, have been at the heart of reshaping the country’s economic and political life. Barack Obama more than any other president represents this shift and has uniquely appealed to these Americans. Everyone today wants to be a professional and most people believe they are.