The middle class, once the economic stratum of a clear majority of American adults, has steadily contracted in the past five decades. The share of adults who live in middle-class households fell from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2021, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
The shrinking of the middle class has been accompanied by an increase in the share of adults in the upper-income tier – from 14% in 1971 to 21% in 2021 – as well as an increase in the share who are in the lower-income tier, from 25% to 29%. These changes have occurred gradually, as the share of adults in the middle class decreased in each decade from 1971 to 2011, but then held steady through 2021.
Household incomes have risen considerably since 1970, but those of middle-class households have not climbed nearly as much as those of upper-income households. The median income of middle-class households in 2020 was 50% greater than in 1970 ($90,131 vs. $59,934), as measured in 2020 dollars. These gains were realized slowly, but for the most part steadily, with the exception of the period from 2000 to 2010, the so-called “lost decade,” when incomes fell across the board.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ How the American middle class has changed in the past five decades | Pew Research Center