5 Charts on the State of the Middle Class
The middle class faces a number of economic challenges. Incomes are stagnant or falling, while the costs of life’s necessities continue to rise, and the risks of falling behind grow.
Still, some dispute that the middle class is struggling.
The American Enterprise Institute argues there has been “considerable improvement in material well-being for both the middle class and the poor … over the past three decades.” Similarly, Brookings Institution’s Scott Winship maintains that “conventional accounts of how the broad middle is doing systematically overstate economic insecurity.”
The following five charts present evidence on the state of the middle class. Middle-class incomes have declined over the past decade, and for the past several decades the share of the economic pie that the middle class receives has decreased and fewer people have earned middle-class incomes. Moreover, the costs of middle-class basics have risen, and debt levels have increased.
David Madland is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Nick Bunker is a Research Assistant with the Economic Policy team at the Center.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or email@example.com
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or email@example.com
Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or email@example.com
Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or email@example.com
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or email@example.com