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.
The nation may be in better economic shape, but that doesn't mean Americans' paychecks are.
Median annual household income has fallen 4.4% to $52,098 in the four years since the economic recovery began.
Black Americans took the biggest income hit since the Great Recession ended.
Median household income for blacks dropped by more than $4,000 to $33,519. Whites, on the other hand, saw their median income slip just over $2,000 to $58,000.
Married couples MORETami Luhby - Aug 22, 2013 10:42 AM ET
Lots of American families are underwater...and not just on their mortgages.
About one out of every five U.S. households owe more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other debts not backed by collateral than they have in savings and other liquid assets, according to a new University of Michigan report published Tuesday.
The precariousness of Americans' financial situations has become increasingly on display since the mortgage crisis precipitated the Great MORETami Luhby - May 8, 2012 4:26 PM ET
Attention teenagers: If you had trouble landing a summer job last year, chances are your job search this year won't be much better.
Only one in 10 hiring managers say they'll hire more staff this summer, while 16% say they'll hire fewer, according to Snagajob, an hourly employment network for job seekers and employers.
A mere 29% think it will be "easy" for teens to find a summer job this year.
The overwhelming MORETami Luhby - Mar 27, 2012 8:07 AM ET
States lowered taxes by $2 billion last year -- the first such reduction in 10 years.
But don't be fooled into thinking states were back in the black financially. Despite facing collective shortfalls exceeding $100 billion, strong anti-tax sentiment has led many states to slash tax levies.
Taxes dropped after states allowed several temporary measures to expire, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These hikes had been enacted to boost MORETami Luhby - Mar 19, 2012 10:36 AM ET
Landing a new job is not easy if you are 50+ and unemployed.
While it's less likely for an older American to be unemployed, once they lose their job, the future is grimmer.
More than half of older unemployed workers were out of a job for more than six months in 2011, according to a new study from the National Employment Law Project. And four in 10 were jobless for at least MORETami Luhby - Mar 9, 2012 12:06 PM ET
Today's college grads are earning far less than their older siblings coming out of school.
Entry level wages for male college graduates fell to an average of $21.68 an hour last year, down 11% from 2001, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group.
Women, meanwhile, saw their average hourly wage drop to $18.80, down 7.6%.
"Young college graduates who finished their education in the last five years MORETami Luhby - Mar 7, 2012 4:53 PM ET
Even though the national economy is on the upswing, many Americans haven't been reaping the benefits.
In fact, the median household income in January was $50,020, or 5.4% lower than it was in June 2009, the beginning of the economic recovery, according to a new estimate from Sentier Research, based on Census data.
This decline in income comes despite improvements in the job market. The unemployment rate stood to 8.3% in January, MORETami Luhby - Mar 6, 2012 12:16 PM ET
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