Pew Research Confirms American Middle Class Is Shrinking

Published: December 10, 2015

Last updated on December 17th, 2015

middle_classAccording to a new report from Pew Research, a nonpartisan nonprofit think tank based in Washington, DC, the American middle class has not only shrunk, but it has also lost 30 percent of the wealth it held a generation ago.

The report finds that in early 2015, 120.8 million adults could claim to be in the American middle class versus 70.3 million in lower-income and 51 million in upper-income households. While the number of Americans belonging to the middle class increased due to the natural progression that results from population growth, a bigger share of the population belonged to the middle class while holding a greater share of the total wealth.  The study finds that the share of income held by middle-income families has plummeted to 43 percent in 2015 versus 6 percent of the wealth in 1971.  The share of wealth held by lower income households remained stable during this time while the share of income held by upper income Americans has exploded to 49 percent of all total wealth in 2015 as opposed to the 29 percent share held in 1971.

The demographic and income data comes from the US Census Bureau’s “Current Population Survey” which serves as the basis of research on income and poverty issues.