Pew Research did some — what they do best — research on the U.S. middle class. Things are not looking good. Since the 1970s the middle class has been eroding and that erosion increased recently.
The middle class number is now at 50% of the total population. As a comparison, in 1971 the figure was 61%. The drop is 11%. And Pew researchers Rakesh Kochhar and Richard Fry say it’s a huge concern.
Defined, a middle class is a household with income that is 2/3 to twice that of the overall median household income. As an example, to be middle class a family of three needs an income of $41,869.
Here are some stats:
• 120.8 million live in middle class households in 2015
• It means middle class is no longer a majority in the U.S.
• That is because the middle class number is a tad less than the combined 51 million upper-income and 70.3 million lower income adults
• The 2014 median income for upper-income families is $174,625
• That’s up 47% since 1970
• Middle class income has risen 34% in that time
• The poorest among us saw a jump of 28% between 1971 and 2014
• African Americans are least likely of all income groups to be middle class
• Just 45% of black adults are in the middle class
• That’s down 1% from 1971
• Whites are the only racial group with a majority in the middle class but it’s down to 52% from 63% in 1971
Are you in the American middle class? Click here to access Pew's income calculator.
Pew Research also took a look at women and men aged 18 to 34 living with parents or relatives. This goes through 2014:
• 36% of women 18 to 34 lived with their parents or relatives.
• That’s the highest number since 1940.
• For young men in the same age bracket it’s 42.8%
• That, however, is not quite as high as 1940.
Richard Fry of Pew Research said, “The result is a striking U-shaped curve for young women — and young men — indicating a return to the past, statistically speaking, but the reasons that more women today are living with mom and dad are far different.”
There are several reasons. One is college enrollment rates for full and part-time students have increased in the last couple of decades. Many students live with their parents to offset living costs.
• Just 14% of millennials in college or graduate school live in non-institutional group quarters.
• 41% live with their parents.
Another reason is millennials being much less likely to be married than their parents were at the same age. Pew’s statistics found:
• The median marriage age is now pushing 30.
• So 30% of women in that age group are not married.
• And 34% of men in the same group are not married.
• Compare that to almost 50% in each group in 1980.
Source links: Two from PropertyCasualty360.com — link 1 and link 2