Fewer and fewer people are feeling middle class these days.
The share of Americans who describe themselves as middle class has taken a tumble, while the percentage who identify as lower class has soared over the past six years, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center/USA Today. The share of Americans who consider themselves upper class has also shrunk.
This downward shift is likely due to falling wages and the weak job market, said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project. The survey notes that median household income fell from $55,627 in 2007 to $51,017 in 2012, the most recent Census data available. And employment in middle-skill jobs increased only 46% between 1980 and 2009, compared to 110% for low-skill jobs, according to a New York Federal Reserve Bank analysis.
"Despite the economic recovery, the economic mood continues to head south," Kochhar said.
The share of young folks age 18 to 29 who feel part of the lower class has nearly doubled in the past six years. This age group has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession and still struggles with unemployment rates higher than the national average. The rate for those age 18 to 29 was 9.5% in December, compared to 6.5% among all adults. (These figures are non-seasonally adjusted.)
College graduates have also seen a downward slide in their perceived social standing. While the share who feel they are in the middle class has stayed roughly the same, the percentage in the upper class shrunk, while the share in the lower class grew. This suggests that the rich felt they slid back into the middle class, and some in the middle felt they slipped down to the lower class.
Nearly 12% of student loans are at least 90 days delinquent, according to new federal data. But borrowers in some states are having more trouble paying their loans than their peers elsewhere.
West Virginia has the highest share of delinquent loan balances, at 17.8%, while South Dakota has the lowest, at 6.6%, according to the latest quarterly data from the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
Related: Class of 2013 grads average $35,200 MORETami Luhby - May 17, 2013 8:04 AM ET
Getting a college degree still helps your chances of getting a job, but not necessarily a good one.
Some Americans are becoming overeducated for the jobs that are available to them, as data shows more college educated workers are taking low-skill jobs that are clearly below their qualifications.
Take taxi drivers for example. About 15%, or more than than 1 in 7, had at least a bachelor's degree in 2010, according to MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - Jan 28, 2013 10:50 AM ET
The largest share of student loan deadbeats are celebrating their 25th college reunions.
Borrowers age 40-49 have the highest proportion of loans that are at least 90 days behind, according to new data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And that's been true each quarter since 2005.
Here's a profile of who holds student loans as of the first quarter of 2012:
There are 14 million more student loan borrowers MORETami Luhby - Jul 17, 2012 4:55 PM ET
Student loans aren't only an issue the young have to deal with.
Nearly 2 million people age 60 and older are still paying back student loans, according to recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And they owe more than $36 billion.
Their average debt? $18,000.
Now, not all this debt is their own. New York Fed researchers don't have a specific breakdown, but believe many seniors incurred this burden MORETami Luhby - Apr 2, 2012 2:54 PM ET
Many see the troubles some are having managing their student loans as an information problem, more than a financial one.
That's because many borrowers don't know what resources are available to them to better manage their student loans. Some 27% of borrowers are behind in their payments, according to a recent report for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
It needn't happen in many cases, experts say. Those with federal student MORETami Luhby - Mar 30, 2012 2:31 PM ET
How would you like to earn an additional $650,000?
Then go to college.
Typical college grads earns about $650,000 more than their peers who just have a high school diploma over the course of a 40-year career, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census and college expense data.
A worker with a bachelor's degree earns about $1.4 million, on average, while a high school grad makes about $770,000.
Of course, it takes MORETami Luhby - Mar 9, 2012 10:10 AM ET
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.37%||4.31%|
|15 yr fixed||3.40%||3.32%|
|30 yr refi||4.38%||4.31%|
|15 yr refi||3.39%||3.32%|
Today's featured rates:
|Latest Report||Next Update|
|Home prices||Aug 28|
|Consumer confidence||Aug 28|
|Manufacturing (ISM)||Sept 4|
|Inflation (CPI)||Sept 14|
|Retail sales||Sept 14|