Homer Simpson: An economic analysis

In this 1995 episode of The Simpsons, Homer
walks with Marge through downtown Springfield and says Careful now. These are dangerous streets for us upper-lower-middle-class
types This is Homer’s first admission to being
"middle-class" For the rest of us, this always seemed obvious. He lives in a modest home in the suburbs with
his wife and three children. He’s not a college graduate and his job
appears to require a minimal amount of technical training. This is all confirmed when we get a tight
shot of his paycheck in season 7. Hey, how come my pay is so low? According to this stub, Homer receives a pre-tax,
weekly pay of $479.60 works out to $11.99 an hour.

So, he’s looking at an annual salary of
$24,395. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $37,416 per
year. What? This is an outrage! There are a lot of fans who think the show
is based on the real life town of Springfield, Oregon. And if we look at Homer's salary there it
places him pretty comfortably in the lower middle class income bracket. Of course, this is all based on one job as
a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. But Homer has had over 191 jobs in 27 seasons
and they’ve placed him across the entire economic spectrum. You know, I've had a lot of jobs. Boxer, mascot, astronaut, imitation Krusty,
baby proofer, trucker, hippie, plow driver, food critic, conceptual artist, grease salesman,
carnie, mayor, grifter, bodyguard for the mayor, garbage commissioner, mountain climber,
farmer, inventor, Smithers, Poochie, celebrity assistant, power plant worker, fortune cookie
writer, beer baron, Kwik-E Mart clerk, homophobe and missionary. But protecting Springfield, that gives me
the best feeling of all.

Some of these jobs were literally impossible
to determine salaries for — like “beer smuggler,” or “the grim reaper.” There were also some seasonal jobs (“mall
santa”), and those had to be excluded. In the end, I narrowed Homer’s resume down
to 100 jobs, then looked up the average salary for each one. Here’s what we found. Three of Homer’s 10 highest-paying jobs
have been at the power plant. In season 13, he tried his hand as the plant’s
executive VP before momentarily taking over Mr. Burns’s post as CEO the following season. Dad please you're the head of a major corporation.

You're right. Three years later, he served as the facility’s
manager. Dohhhhhhhhh. Uhhhmmmm. Uhhhh. Duhhhhhhh. Around half of Homer’s jobs place him in
the middle class. And his least lucrative jobs were pretty odd. He was a mascot, a carny, moonshine taste
tester, a cannonball performance artist, and a walking billboard. What are those doing there?! Earning us a hundred bucks a week that's what. I plotted out Homer’s hypothetical job salaries
in a linear order, by episode number. And over the course of 597 episodes — from
1989 to 2016 — it’s clear that he hasn’t really ascended economically. Estelle: Despite a few successes here and
there, he has stagnated and that makes him just like the actual American middle class.

Until the 1970s, the income of the average
American family grew alongside national economic productivity. Since then, wages have stagnated, and have
failed to keep up with inflation. Economists refer to this as the ‘middle-class
squeeze’. Homer’s median income has never surpassed
the median income in the United States. Despite brief forays into the 1 percent, Homer
remains a paradigm of middle-class America: Three decades later, he’s right where he
started..

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