What Killed the Middle Class?

harry-enm-picOur middle class has been shrinking substantially since the 1960s and ’70s. Today, their share of wealth is the lowest in the world, at a mere 19.6%!

But what exactly is to blame for the demise of the middle class? Could it be the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to China and other Asian countries? Maybe the flood of illegal and legal immigrants into U.S. jobs? Or possibly the growing wealth of the top 1%, and the insatiable greed on Wall Street?

All are viable candidates to take the blame. But most other developed countries face the same competition from the emerging world, many have some degree of influx of lower-skill immigrants, and most are also seeing their rich get richer… yet they haven’t been losing nearly as much of their middle class.

So, what gives in the U.S.?

Extreme political polarization and income inequality is what gives! We’re the highest on both. Today real incomes of the middle class are 5% lower than they were in 1970 and 12.4% lower than in 2000, when they peaked!

When we take the affluent 10% out of the picture, we see that the bottom 90% average only $32,352 in income per year. That top 10% skew the overall average dramatically, so the $55,132 you hear about isn’t accurate.

In the meantime, the top 0.1% have seen their share of wealth go up four times since 1975! And, since 1970, the “super elite” 0.01% has seen their incomes grow a whopping 628%!

For a closer look at all of these numbers, check out our latest infographic, What Killed the Middle Class?

middle-class-infographic-enm-snip

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Harry
Follow me on Twitter @HarryDentjr

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Categories: Demographic Trends

About Author

Harry studied economics in college in the ’70s, but found it vague and inconclusive. He became so disillusioned by the state of the profession that he turned his back on it. Instead, he threw himself into the burgeoning New Science of Finance, which married economic research and market research and encompassed identifying and studying demographic trends, business cycles, consumers’ purchasing power and many, many other trends that empowered him to forecast economic and market changes.