This is a theme I hear a lot in my own family…how the middle class in the US is shrinking, leading to…something bad. I was reading on CNN today, and this article caught my eye…it’s about this very subject. And if you watch the video, it talks about shrinking middle class and less opportunity, with the implication that it’s shrinking into the lower classes. But the data seems to be that it’s ‘shrinking’ because the ‘upper class’ is growing (to be fair the ‘lower class’ is growing too…just slower). Also, the range seems arbitrary to me…I mean, why is ‘middle class’ between ‘$41,900 to $125,600 for a three-person household’? Wouldn’t it depend on where you lived in the US as to what those numbers even mean? At any rate, it seems that, based on that (to me) rather arbitrary definition of what is or isn’t ‘middle class’, that the middle class has shrunk from 61% in 1970 (I’m assuming this is all in adjusted dollars), with the upper class being 14% of American’s and the lower class comprising 25% to today, where the middle class is 50%, the upper class is 21% and the lower class 29%. To me, that means that more people have moved into the arbitrary ‘upper class’ than have moved into the arbitrary ‘lower class’, which sounds like a good thing overall, and that none of this really says much about opportunity in any case.
I figured there is a debate in here somewhere, and wanted to see what 'dopers think of this. Obviously, according to this, the middle class IS ‘shrinking’, but is this just statistics or is it a real problem? I can certainly see how having 29% of the population supposedly in the ‘lower class’ based on the cap for a family of 3 at $41k per year is a bad thing, but if the middle class is moving into the arbitrary ‘upper class’ more than they are moving into the arbitrary ‘lower class’ I’m unsure it’s meaningful. I’d also like the thoughts on whether people in any of these arbitrary classes THINK they are in the ‘lower’, ‘upper’ or ‘middle’ (I assume most think they are in the ‘middle’ class except the super poor and the super rich, but no idea really).