- Over the last 50 years or so, the middle class has been on the decline.
- Because of this, fewer people are identifying as middle class than they were 10 years ago.
- Here are five signs that you’re probably not in the middle class, including your age, marital status, and the healthcare costs you face.
The middle class is shrinking. If you look at Pew Research data over the last five decades, the numbers are somewhat striking: Middle-income Americans represented about 61% of the country in 1971, while only 52% of American adults were classified as middle income in 2016.
And people are acutely aware of this fact, which is why just 44% of Americans said they were middle class in 2014, compared with 53% in 2008, according to the Pew Research Center.
Even though it’s easy to put an economic-class label on yourself, it’s still difficult to say where you stand exactly since there are many ways to define the middle class.
But to help you start figuring out where you are, here are five indicators that you’re probably not in the middle class:
1. You’re a millennial
If being middle class means being financially comfortable, then millennials have a bit of work to do on that front. While they have been accused of killing many industries and businesses with declining expenditure – canned tuna, American cheese, even the restaurant chain Hooters – a lot of millennials are simply struggling.
Part of that is because they both aren’t making as much money as their parents did at the same age, and they aren’t making enough of it, according to new analysis from the Federal Reserve. They’re also less likely to own their home than previous generations, the Federal Reserve noted – a common benchmark for the middle class.
2. You don’t stress about your healthcare costs
If your own healthcare costs aren’t a particular source of stress, congratulations! That’s probably because you’re sitting comfortably in the upper echelons of the economic classes.
3. You’re single
Sorry to those who enjoy the freedom that comes with a single lifestyle, but according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual, it’s statistically less likely that those individuals would identify themselves as middle class (about 55%) compared with those who are married or have a partner (upward of 75%). The survey also found that men are more likely to identify as middle class than women (74% versus 64%, respectively).
4. You felt like the recession hit you harder than others
If you were a lower-income earner during the 2000s, you probably felt the effects more than most. On average, low-income individuals lost about 9% of their earnings from 2000 to 2014, while those in the middle-income segment lost only 4%, according to the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, that loss – combined with declining social mobility – means it’s likely that many of those who fit that description could be in the same place they were a decade ago.
5. You live near where you grew up
Home may be where the heart is, but if you’re 22 or older and living within 10 miles of your childhood home, it’s more likely that you’re low income than in the middle, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve. Those who have relocated farther away, on the other hand, were found to be more likely to experience a higher degree of financial success.