Marriage Is No Guarantee Of Income Security

More than 11 million American families are now in the lower-middle class.

And a majority of them feature married couples, new Brookings data show.

The group found that while the majority of the 7 million households below the federal poverty level (FPL) comprise unmarried women, 56% of households living between 100% and 250% of the poverty level, which Brookings defines as lower-middle class, are headed by married individuals. The average federal poverty level is about $US32,000.


This does not exactly jibe with the strides made by married folks in the past few decades, although Brookings does not provide historical data for a direct comparison. According to Pew, incomes for married women grew 61% to $US73,774 during the period, compared with 59% growth to $US48,738 for unmarried women. The rate for married men climbed 62% to $US74,642, while growing just 26% to $US65,849 for unmarried men.

Those gains may have now slowed.

We addressed a likely root cause of this in the 20th “megatrend” of our recent US 20 Megatrends feature: Men are falling behind big. They were long ago surpassed by women in education, and more than a quarter of all married couples now have women earning as much as or more than men, compared with 7% in 2011.

Of course, married couples still comprise a majority of the highest income earners.

It’s just that you’re now likely to find a similar percentage among the lower class.

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