America's middle class is smaller than ever

All of the talk about America’s shrinking middle class appears to be ringing true.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the middle class is no longer a majority in the US, according to data released by the Pew Research Center.

This year, “120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million [adults] in lower and upper-income households combined.”

The Pew Research Center drew that conclusion based on an analysis of federal government data from 1971 to 2015.

For the report published Wednesday, the organisation defines middle-class Americans this way: annual income of about $42,000 to $126,000 for a household of three, in 2014 dollars.

The organisation noted that during the 1971-2015 period, the share of upper and lower-income households rose as the middle class declined.

And while the upper-income bracket apparently grew more than the lower-end, more money shifted from mid-level households to those in the upper bracket.

A downside and an upside

The report finds that middle-class Americans earned 4% less income in 2014 than they did in 2000. Wealth in this group (assets minus debts) also declined. Because of the housing crisis and the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, median wealth for the middle class dropped by 28% overall between 2001 and 2013.

Despite the relatively grim findings, the Pew Research Center determined that median income for the middle-class household income has grown 34% overall since 1970.

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