Here’s how much the middle class has shrunk since the 1970s

A look at the proportion of Americans in the lower, middle and upper-income tiers and how numbers have changed.

Based on a Pew Research Center study. People are assigned to income tiers based on their household incomes in the calendar year before the survey year, after incomes have been adjusted for the number of people living in each household. Shares may not total 100% due to rounding.

The middle class has fallen behind on two key counts. The growth in income since 1970 has not kept pace with that of the upper-income tier. And the share of total U.S. household income held by the middle class has plunged.

Who is middle class?

Households in all tiers had much higher incomes in 2022 than in 1970, after adjusting for inflation. But the gains for middle- and lower-income households were less than the gains for upper-income households.

Sources: Pew Research Center, Congressional Budget Office, American Community Survey

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