The middle class, once the economic stratum of a clear majority of American adults, has steadily contracted in the past five decades. The share of adults who live in middle-class households fell from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2021, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
The shrinking of the middle class has been accompanied by an increase in the share of adults in the upper-income tier – from 14% in 1971 to 21% in 2021 – as well as an increase in the share who are in the lower-income tier, from 25% to 29%. These changes have occurred gradually, as the share of adults in the middle class decreased in each decade from 1971 to 2011, but then held steady through 2021.
The share of U.S. aggregate income accounted for by upper-income households has increased from 29% in 1970 to 50% in 2020. Part of this increase reflects the rising share of adults who are in the upper-income tier. https://t.co/5NdUgKzkD4 pic.twitter.com/q5JwWWLn7v— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) April 24, 2022