(Newswire.net — December 10, 2015) — According to a new study, the US middle class no longer constitutes the majority of the grown up population.
The Pew Research Center study which was released on Wednesday, points out that the long standing ideals that middle class is strong has been greatly diminished due to demographic and economic forces.
For many experts in this field it is very worrisome because it can lead to both social and economic instability. Median-income voters, middle-income households and people who do not have a college degree have always been the focus of Republican presidential campaigns, so now, there is fear and anger among the Republican supporters that the not long ago secure standing is beginning to slip away.
The problem seems to have started several years ago when the country recovered from the Great Recession and from then onward. What actually happened was that the economy started rewarding technically-skilled people, more educated people and well-off investors. That led to a significant growth of households with upper income and an increase of people with lower income and education, which then led to a decline in the middle income population bringing it below 50 percent of the total population this year, as opposed to 1971, when they constituted 61 percent of the total population. Unfortunately, the middle imcome population has been steadily declining since then, according to the Pew report.
A middle class household would be defined as such, if its total annual income is between 42,000 and 120,000 dollars, according to analyzed data from the Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and the Labour Department.
It is a tradition among Americans to identify themselves as middle class, as a kind of cultural heritage connected to the American dream. This spring’s survey carried out by Gallop showed that only 51 percent of the adult population regarded themsleves as middle or upper class, as opposed to 2008’s 63 percent.
Despite this change in self-identification, middle class is still the main focus in all presidential campaigns. Even President Obama named his programs ‘middle class economics’.
Patrick Egan, a politics professor at New York University says:” Americans are always kind of reluctant to embrace open-class warfare, if more Americans are under the idea of placing themselves at the bottom, you’ll see the politicians follow”.
There has also been a decline in manufacturing and a differentiation in jobs in favour of highly educated people and technically-skilled workers, which has led to the shrinkage of the middle class.
Is this trend going to continue? That will depend on the household structure, immigration, number of marriages and college education. Harry Holzer, an economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University said:” The Pew findings are not comforting. It does suggest that even when you adjust demographics, it’s a little troubling. We always expect things to be getting better”.
Although experts agree that the increase of the upper class is a positive shift, it is very important to find a way to at least stabilize the middle class, or even better get it back on its feet again.