United States

Fewer American people are middle class than 50 years ago. What has happened? 

Only 50% of people in America now live in middle-class households, down from 61% five decades earlier. Image: Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

Rakesh Kochhar

Associate Director of Research, Pew Research Center

Stella Sechopoulos

Research Assistant, Pew Research Center

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United States

A chart showing the percentage of adults in each income tier
A 7% increase in the upper income bracket can be seen when comparing 2021 to 1971 figures Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
A chart showing median income, in 2020 dollars and scaled to reflect a three-person household
Upper income saw a percentage change much greater than middle and lower income Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
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A chart showing the percentage of U.S. aggregate household income held by lower-, middle- and upper-income households
Aggregate household income for middle income households seems to be on a decline Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
A chart showing income status changes across various demographic groups
Those in the age 65 plus bracket saw some of the biggest changes Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
A chart showing the percentage of adults in each income tier, with regards to marital status and the amount of earners in a household
Multi-earner households seem more likely to be in the upper income bracket than single-earner households Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
A chart showing the percentage of adults in each income tier, with regards to gender and background
Members of the black demographic are more likely to be a part of the upper income bracket than the Hispanic demographic Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
A chart showing the percentage of adults in each income tier, with regards to age
The 30-44 demographic has the most members in the upper income bracket Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)

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A chart showing the percentage of adults in each income tier, with regards to education
Adults with a bachelor's degree make up the largest percentage of upper income earners Image: Pew Research Center/Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (IPUMS)
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