America’s Middle Class Shrinking, No Longer Economic Majority

America's Middle Class
Pew researchers found upper- and lower-income families combine to make up the majority of households in the United States, for the first time edging out the middle class. File photo by trekandshoot/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) — The Pew Research Center found there are more high- and low-income households combined in America, edging out the once-strong middle class as the driving force behind the economy.

Researchers found the middle class — defined by Pew as households that earn two-thirds to double the nation’s median income — now makes up 50 percent of the nation’s population, down from 61 percent in 1971. Pew found 120.8 million American adults were living in middle-income homes at the beginning of 2015, compared with 121.3 adults living in upper- and lower-income households, “a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point.”

The report found middle-class earners are falling behind financially. The gap in income and wealth between the upper- and middle-class households has grown larger in the past four decades or so. The median middle-class income grew 34 percent from 1970 to 2014, while upper-income households grew by 47 percent.

“Although 2014 incomes are generally higher than in 1970, all households experienced a lengthy period of decline in the 21st century thanks to the 2001 recession and the Great Recession of 2007-09,” researchers found.


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