It's tough to stay in middle America these days. As the number of low-income and wealthy people grows, the number of folks in the middle class is shrinking.
"In 1971, according to the Pew Research Center, 61% of all adults lived in middle-income households," wrote William Galston for the Wall Street Journal. "By 2011, the middle-income share had fallen to 51%, while the lower- and upper-income sectors grew. Median household income in 2011 was not significantly higher than it had been in 1989. Because upper-income households fared much better during those four decades, their share of total household income increased by 17 percentage points — to 46% from 29% — while the middle-income share fell by 17 points, to 45% from 62%."
America is seeing a larger percentage of the country's wealth heading to those at the top.
From The New York Times:
In the new normal, the real wages of workers on the factory floor are lower than they were in the early '70s. And the richest 10 percent of Americans get over half of the income America produces.
"Almost all of the benefits of growth since the trough of the Great Recession have been going to those in the upper classes," said Timothy Smeeding, who heads the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. "Middle- and lower-income families are getting a smaller slice of a smaller economic pie as labor markets have changed drastically during our recovery."
On The Daily Circuit, we examine the root causes, the social side effects and the potential to stabilize what once was a large body of Americans who had a comfortable lifestyle in the middle of the economic spectrum.