Visualizing The Collapse Of The Middle Class In 20 Major U.S. Cities

Tyler Durden's picture

When future historians look back at the beginning of the 21st century, they’ll note that we grappled with many big issues. They’ll write about the battle between nationalism and globalism, soaring global debt, a dysfunctional healthcare system, societal concerns around automation and AI, and pushback on immigration. They will also note the growing number of populist leaders in Western democracies, ranging from Marine Le Pen to Donald Trump.

However, as Visual Cpitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, these historians will not view these ideas and events in isolation. Instead, they will link them all, at least partially, to an overarching trend that is intimately connected to today’s biggest problems: the “hollowing out” of the middle class.


The fact is many people have less money in their pockets – and understandably, this has motivated people to take action against the status quo.

And while the collapse of the middle class and income inequality are issues that receive a fair share of discussion, we thought that this particular animation from Metrocosm helped to put things in perspective.

The following animation shows the change in income distribution in 20 major U.S. cities between 1970 and 2015:

The differences between 1970 and 2015 are intense. At first, each distribution is more bell-shaped, with the majority of people in a middle income bracket – and by 2015, those people are “pushed” out towards the extremes as they either get richer or poorer.


This phenomenon is not limited to major cities, either.

Here’s another look at the change in income distribution using smaller brackets and the whole U.S. adult population:

It’s a multi-faceted challenge, because while a significant portion of middle class households are being shifted into lower income territory, there are also many households that are doing the opposite. According to Pew Research, the percentage of households in the upper income bracket has grown from 14% to 21% between 1971 and 2015.

The end result? With people being pushed to both ends of the spectrum, the middle class has decreased considerably in size. In 1971, the middle class made up 61% of the adult population, and by 2014 it accounted for less than 50%.

As this “core” of society shrinks, it aggravates the aforementioned problems. People and governments borrow more money to make up for a lack of middle class wealth, while backlashes against globalism, free trade, and open borders are fueled. The populists who can “fix” the broken system are elected, and so on.

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zipit's picture

You can only stretch a rubber band so far...

Donald Trump's picture
Donald Trump (not verified) zipit Apr 22, 2017 8:24 PM

They prefer to call it Retail Bubble Burst or Retail Apocalypse.

Sounds more PC no? We all know that stores close when people ARE POOR, so The Collapse Of The Middle Class is more adequate.

Nearly Ten Thousand Stores Could Close This Year As Retail “Bubble” Bursts


chunga's picture

What this country needs is more spam, fraud, and testimonial fake internet accounts.

cheka's picture

free trade in pictures.  tariff or continue to get bled out by nyc.dc

Paul Kersey's picture

"Instant Gratification: Why 76% of Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck"

Yesterday's middle class is today's debt-serf class.

847328_3527's picture

Excellent chart....proives that Obama O'Sama's recovery was "robust" and quite "awesome!"

Hard to understand people who would vote for Hillary or any democrat given what destruction they have reeked.

Unless they are FSA, memeber of the dindu tribe, a gubmint employee, or MIC.

The rest of Americans like the entire middle class, Asian-Americans, hard working Americans, etc....all got sodomized by Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, Reed and the other Democrats.

Luckily, so many middle class suckers who voted for Hillary are now switching to republican esp when they hear that DNC racist Perez talk. Repugnicans are not the greatest but they beat Democrat marxists.

ersatz007's picture

Yeah Obama was fucking it up since the '70s.  You obviously missed the point of this article that the shift in wealth has been taking place for over 40 years.  Also interesting that the beginning of the decline coincides with the closing of the gold window. Hmmmm

death2Tyrant-asauras's picture

agree. it has long been my belief that the 1971 gold window close/US bankruptcy declaration was the beginning of the end.  and its only gotten worse.

Reality Creator's picture

Looks like the Reagan years was the first bump of the 1%, then the Bush 1 and Clinton years was the second bump. Not to necessarily suggest that these 3 guys were responsible, because it takes a lot more than a president to effect such drastic economic change, but, then again, these guys were working with administrations and countless maneuvering banksters and ceo's to pull it off over a 20-year period.

baby_tone's picture

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do...

83_vf_1100_c's picture

  Yes, Zythras, by all means hide that scammy westerner site. Go guzzle cum til you die spammer!

CHX13's picture

Yep, yet our financial and politial overlords just keep on replacing the snapped bands with a new and stronger rubber band. Now what did Einstein say again about insanity...?

HopefulCynical's picture

Einstein was a socialist, so obviously his genius was highly specialized.

alfredhorg's picture

"by 2015, those people are “pushed” out towards the extremes as they either get richer or poorer."


No sympathy from me.  Even a janitor has the means to make a financial comeback:

ipso_facto's picture

Remember when white people were the majority and worked for a living?

FreeShitter's picture

50's -- 80's...shit started to fall apart mid 90's. I remember not seeing many illegals either.

SPQR 70AD's picture

it started when the POS eagan made legal 5 million messicans ensuring 20 million more would come and still coming. in 1980 whites were 80% of the population. I bet when reagan left it was down to 70% in just 8  years

just the tip's picture

try 1958, when honda and toyota first landed on the west coast.  those robot built cars spelled the doom of detroit.  reduced employment followed by off shoring.  ok, you hate reagan, i get it.  but you've let your hate get in the way of seeing what happened long before ronnie came along.

Déjà view's picture

Aug. 15, 1971...match was lit...making it official...downhill ever since...handwritting was on wall a few years before that...

Hard to imagine...1960's everyone had well paying jobs...$'$ in bank account...affordable housing...


In the early 80's US industry was booming. I used to sell heavy equipment to shipyards and every port had at least one or two shipyards. They were all busy. Then equal employment laws were passed and these yards were forced to hire blacks and women to "achive a racial balance" Now pretty much every commercial yard is gone. All the work has gone overseas and the skilled workers are probably gone forever. The only yards left are some Navy based yards and some yards in Texas on the border with Mexico building oil rigs. But that is about it.

xvvx23's picture

Quite an idiotic comment  really

SPQR 70AD's picture

nope you are the idiot

CHX13's picture

Please elaborate your "logic" then. Curious minds would like to hear...

Lower Tones's picture

How is being nostalgic idiotic? Do you feel left out of the equation? Please, elucidate.

SonsOfLibertyReborn's picture

Well, yeah, explains it well.

Whites have an average IQ of 103, blacks have average IQ of 75, Hispanics have 80. Since IQ is directly correlated to every aspect of civilization, as whites have decreased, so has the civilization.

Then, the lack of morality is a further burden. As people become less disciplined, this puts additional stresses on the nation. If the people of a nation will not discipline themselves, only a beneficial dictator can discipline the people and keep the nation from ruin.

Basically, Adolf Hitler was right and he did nothing wrong. Civilization without discipline collapses. A multi-racial nation is absolute nonsense; so are multi-cultural nations. Multi-racialism and multi-culturalism (as well as individualism) are simply divide and conquer tactics to destroy the nation.

Rise up and fight, white man, before it is too late for your sons and your daughters.

besnook's picture

and now the asian population is showing the white population that whites aren't really that much smarter than blacks and both share a lot of the same attibutes. white people do make better slaves, however. they are more pliant and compliant. black people like to fight too much. the latinos are like chameleons playing both sides.

SPQR 70AD's picture

how come india and pakistan are shithole where 90% never seen a toilet and wipe their asses with their hands

EternalAnusocracy's picture

200 years of British rule, and 800 years of Muslim invasions might have something to do with it.

unsafe-space-time's picture

Asians are bees in a hive. Whites used to be individuals and inventors. Socialism/feminism/atheism is like a virus that makes you less smart with every generation. Chimps are probably degenerate tribe of humans.

Wild E Coyote's picture

Please don't talk about IQ. White people are so stupid that King Richard travelled thousands of miles to go to Jerusalem and fight for Jews against the Muslims. 

And till today, Whites are still doing the bidding of Jews. The Governments in white majority countries are full of Jews.

White men's wealth and savings are being used by Jewish bankers.

How in hell do you still think white IQ is high?

Whites are dying slowly because of this supriority attitude. Rise up against what? Blacks? Latinos? That is exactly what Jews want and are promoting in all media. You fight, you die.

Do what America do in other countries. Like Ukraine. Occupy the Government building and take over the Government. 

Start thinking man. 

whoisjg's picture

the collapse of America is the right path, a lesson for the Anti-Hitlerans and Jews who ran it. 


The correct path forward is for Europanics to find a moderately sized island and move there with an army and nuclear weapons. Utterly remove the natives, and rebuild/hunker down as a race. My choice is Sri Lanka or Tasmania

duo's picture

I 'member, but back then bankers and real estate agents were a few percent of the workers, unlike 40% now.

whoisjg's picture

member when michael jackson was black?

TAALR Swift's picture

The demise of a great nation begins from within. External pressures only expose it.

If I wanted to take down a Civilization, I'd have its populace become comfortable. Very comfortable. Until they become dumb, fat and lazy. And scared. Scared to lose their creature comforts and have their routines disrupted.

All the while your own People and their civilization grow exponentially. 

By the time the host has realized what is going on, it's too late. 

EternalAnusocracy's picture

MAWA!! (Make America White Again) s/

just the tip's picture

....and the mayor of atlanta was white and not named mohammed?

MasterControl's picture

They still are and still do.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Apr 22, 2017 8:17 PM

I gues that was the whole point. To kill the middle class. Stupid. The middle class are the ones that lay a golden egg every day. Kill them and government starves and then fails.

toady's picture

Yeah, it's kinda stupid. Build a "consumer economy" then kill it by not supporting the consumers.

It's really just rampant greed. That top group just keeps mining the rest a little harder... a little harder.... got pile another billion on top of the last one.... right up till it's too late.

Seasmoke's picture

Look at fucking Washington DC !!!! Stare at it, for an hour straight if you must, until you realize what the fuck is happening in that one chart !!!!

the edge of chaos's picture

that really is STUNNING....the Deep State is very deeply entrenched...Trump`s "drain the swamp" slogan ain`t ever gonna happen. TOOOO much money to be had by "government" workers".

sunkeye's picture

Seasmoke's + 1 jillion. T/y man for the point out. I'd just looked at my own home town chart but yeah DC aka Lobbyistville aka Corruptotown is - IS - the fucking problem.

Why Bother's picture

The group that prospered most in the last 30 years were those whose families worked in the Military Indusstrial Complex. I know, because I worked in it for 27 years. I prospered by the idea of creating wars in order to sell weapons, creating enemies in order to create wars. It took 27 years to realize this and I no longer keep it to myself. I downsized my income and my living standards greatly. I was offered more pay to do defense work but I kept turning it down the last four years.

I will be flamed by the death worshippers but I don't care.

Bananamerican's picture

"It took 27 years to realize this"

a little slow on the uptake....

Why Bother's picture

It was when Edward Snowden showed the U.S. spy agencies were spying on Americans, plus several years of TSA, NDAA, "Patriot Act," and so on that all summed up to that the American government is the real terrorist.

Dave Whiteman's picture



how many in the MIC believe the bulloney war propaganda?


moneys being made while our White soldiers come back in body bags


how can MIC folks  stop from being ripped apart with guilt?


are they psychopaths or do they sweep these questions under the rug?


it's all false flags- last time we were attacked for real was 1812

CRM114's picture

The trick, of course, is to stop being middle class before they stop you.

e.g. Stop working as soon as possible, and provide your own services. Don't slave away in the office to pay some muppet to build you a nasty little box, build your own house - the one you want. The tax benefits alone of this are amazing.