Oh, how the storied American middle-class has fallen. New numbers out from the Pew Research Center show that inequality has increased so much since 1999 that middle-income earners are no longer a majority in nine states and the District of Columbia.
Pew defines middle-income as anything between between two-thirds and double the national median, after adjustment for household size. In 2014, the year Pew’s study is based on, a household of three would need to earn between $42,000 to $125,000 annually to be considered middle-income. An earlier Pew study had shown long-term national declines in the number of middle-income Americans, but this is the first time Pew has reported on individual cities and states.
Inequality between the richest and the poorest grew in 197 out of 229 metropolitan areas in the country. Growing inequality was most pronounced in the Great Lakes region, which historically is among the most equal in the US.
Declines in middle-income status were due to both increasing poverty and growth in those earning upper incomes. By state, the most severe decline was in Massachusetts, where the middle-income share shrank by seven percentage points. Almost all of that was made up by growth amongst those earning upper incomes. Pew found that states were as likely to experience overall an gain in economic status as they were to have had a decline.
If you want to find out where you stand, Pew has provided this handy calculator.