With new businesses and retail centers, the city of Tyler seems to be growing every day. But, new research shows the area’s middle class is actually shrinking.
According to the Pew Research Center’s data, the city of Tyler is among 100 other metro areas in the country where the middle class has declined, ranking the Tyler/Smith County area 30th.
“Tyler has 108,000 right now, but it’s also considered a Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is Tyler-Smith County combined, which is 225,000 people, so we get listed on these metro studies all the time,” said Tom Mullins, Economic Development Council CEO.
According to the research, middle-income adults live in households with incomes two-thirds to double the national median size-adjusted household income, about $42,000 to $125,000 annually in 2014 for a three-person household.
Mullins said nine out of 10 cities have lost jobs in the middle class and these jobs typically were associated with manufacturing jobs. For the last 40 years, he said manufacturing jobs have been lost globally.
“New technology, advanced technology squeezes the need for labor to be making product out,” said Mullins.
With an unemployment rate at four percent, he said it’s unclear why the lower class is rising.
“What the lower income folks are doing is taking jobs that have less skill requirements, it’s more labor focused but it pays less,” he said. “The message after looking at the data is you’ve got to stay in school, get some additional education after high school so you have those skill sets to compete.”
Mullins said the Tyler-Smith County area gains around 3,500 people each year due to economy and job availability.