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The Drum Major Institute released a study titled "Saving Our Middle Class," which suggests that NYC's middle class continues to be under more and more strain. DMI surveyed a number of city leaders and found:

It's harder to enter the middle class: 92% "agree that it is harder to enter the middle class today than it was ten years ago."
- They believe middle-class income is now between $75,000 and $135,000 for families of four (it's between $45,000 and $90,000 for single individuals), while NYC median income is $49,374 a year.
- Essentials of middle-class standards of living include health insurance, owning a computer with internet access, holding a full-time job, and sending children to a quality public school.
- Only a third found that owning a house, condo or co-op is a middle-class essential.
- Affordable rent and health insurance are big challenges for the middle class

And the results were released during the DMI's conference about the middle class yesterday. In what the NY Sun and NY Times both called a preview of the 2009 mayoral race, City Comptroller William Thompson, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Representative Anthony Weiner were present; City Councilman John Liu was also there (he wasn't mentioned in the Times). Weiner apparently sparred with both Liu and Carrion; Thompson wasn't on their panel, but he did mention the "barbell effect" - "low-income people and higher-income people expanding, and those in the middle being squeezed" (via the Times).

Baruch public-affairs professor Douglas Muzzio told the Sun the middle class "has to be" a major issue in the 2009 mayoral race.

Photograph by Santi-Jose on Flickr