The findings reveal how population growth and economic hurdles reshaped the long-held American dream to maintain a powerful, dominant middle class. Analysts are currently concerned by the long term consequences of such a situation.
The incomes of middle-class families have been the engine of the American economic growth for decades, and a reason for social stability. This is why presidential candidates often put a safe bet on the middle class to secure votes.
For instance, the vocal Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addressed his rhetoric to middle-class men, and his surge in GOP polls was due to middle-income supporters that do not own a college degree. The situation may reflect concerns of Trump’s middle-class constituency that their class is declining because of federal interfering and immigrants.
But the American middle-class was the worst hit during the economic crisis, when many of its members lost their jobs, homes, and social status. During that time, the economy retained only the highly-educated and workers that were very specialized in their fields.
Pew researchers found that an accelerated surge in the incomes of the upper class along with a raise in less educated workforce that was willing to work for less recently brought the middle class to less than 50 percent of U.S. adult population. In the 1970s, America’s middle class represented 61 percent of population.
Researchers also found that the high-income class grew rapidly in recent years and so did the number of low-income families. According to the research firm, a household with three members is considered middle-class if it earns between $42,000 and $126,000 per year.
The Pew findings were based on data provided by the U.S. Labor Department, Census Bureau, and the Fed. But if one asks an average American about the social class he or she belongs to, they will probably self-identify as middle class, even though they may belong to the bottom or top tier.
Earlier this year, a survey showed that 51 percent of U.S. adults self-identify as middle class, despite the recent economic recession. But before the economic crisis, 63 percent of Americans said that they belonged to the middle class.
Yet, the recently-noticed shift may have long-term political and economic consequences, researchers believe. So far, the White House viewed most of its programs as part of a ‘middle-class economics,’ as President Obama put it.
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