As the 2012 presidential candidates prepare their closing arguments to America’s middle class, they are courting a group that has endured a lost decade for economic well-being. Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future. These stark assessments are based on findings from a new nationally representative Pew Research Center "Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier" study and we present the only two charts that matter now.
Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot.
The Pew Research analysis finds that upper-income households accounted for 46% of U.S. aggregate household income in 2010, compared with 29% in 1970. Middle-income households claimed 45% of aggregate income in 2010, compared with 62% in 1970. Lower-income households had 9% of aggregate income in 2010 and 10% in 1970.
Even as the share of Americans in the middle has declined, the income status has improved for some demographic groups and deteriorated for others.
Source: Pew Research Center