Why is the American middle class shrinking

The American middle class is disappearing

Stagnating wages, rising costs: the middle class is on the retreat in almost all large cities and metropolitan areas in the USA. In the years 2000 to 2014, according to a survey by the Pew Institute in Washington, this applies to nine out of ten regions examined. The study defines "middle class" as households whose income is at least two-thirds and at most twice the median national income. That spans the wide range of $ 42,000 to $ 125,000 per year.

In a number of regions the middle class declined while the upper and lower classes grew at the same time. In other areas only the upper class increased, in others only the lower class. Pew examined 229 regions. In almost a quarter of these, the middle class no longer makes up the majority - in 2000 this was only the case in ten percent of the regions.

Social polarization

According to Pew, the long-term survey is proof that American society is continuing to drift apart. With regard to the middle class, it was said that there was a nationwide decline. "The far-reaching erosion of the middle class is happening against the background of a decline in household incomes in most metropolitan areas of the United States," the study says.

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Nationwide, the median income was eight percent below the 1999 figure. Pew: "A reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the great 2007-2009 recession."

Values ‚Äč‚Äčlike these play into the hands of critics of the Barack Obama's economic policy. They argue that despite growth and externally stable labor market figures overall, too many people would have too few positive effects. The topic also plays a major role in the presidential election campaign.

Luxury New York Apartments

In an earlier survey a few months ago, the Pew Institute found that for the first time since 1971, the middle class in the US no longer forms the majority of society. In 2014 it was 49.9 percent. The reasons are stagnating wages, rising costs and a serious increase in wealthy households.

stu / SC (ap, dpa)