This article originally appeared in Regulation. Click here to read the full article.
By Ike Brannon
Is Peoria, Ill., special? Of course it is, says I—along with the thousands of other people who, like me, hail from the central Illinois community. It’s a great city with wonderful people, as well as a rich culture and heritage that belies the common perception of it being provincial bore or a totem of flyover country. I’m being facetious in positing such a banality, of course. As a public policy writer with precisely one shtick—being from Peoria—I’ve laid a foundation for its specialness in myriad ways, mentioning it in over a dozen articles in 2014 alone. Subtle I’m not.
What I’ve been wondering the last few months is whether Peoria is somehow economically special. I’ve been trying to reconcile my knowledge of the town and the people who live there with the research of Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and various other top-drawer academics purporting to show that the plight of the middle class—the folks who people Peoria—has been getting worse over the last three decades.