September 20, 2018

Are You Middle Class? This Calculator Claims to Tell You

When Pew asked Americans in 2015 what was needed to be considered middle class, they said it was necessary to have a secure job and the ability to save money.

There was less agreement as to whether it was important to own a home or take vacations. And in 2015 a college education was seen as less relevant to middle-class status than it was in 2012.

After the Great Recession, there was a big increase in the number of people who identified as being lower class, said Tom W. Smith of NORC at the University of Chicago, a public opinion research center.

“This measure is at 9 percent, the highest ever,” said Dr. Smith, who runs the organization’s Center for the Study of Politics and Society.

That may have to do with political rhetoric, he added, in particular Donald J. Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” which suggests that typical Americans are not well off.

[Read more: The Great Recession knocked them down. Only some got up again.]

The size of the nation’s middle class has remained fairly stable since 2011, according to Pew. Even so, the income gap between upper-income households and middle- and lower-income households has widened, and the median wealth of middle-income Americans fell by 28 percent from 2001 to 2013, Pew reported.

Painting an even darker picture, in 2016, the most recent data available, the median income of middle-class households was about the same as in 2000, Pew said, in part because of the Great Recession and an earlier recession in 2001. In addition, “the wealth gaps between upper-income families and lower- and middle-income families in 2016 were at the highest levels recorded,” Pew said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/business/economy/income-calculator-middle-class.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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