Politics Magazine

American Self-Identification As "Middle Class" Is Declining

Posted on the 21 February 2014 by Jobsanger
The United States, since the establishment of the union movement, has had a strong and growing middle class. That began to change as the Republicans weakened the unions, and tilted the economic playing field toward the rich (and the corporations) -- and when the Bush recession hit at the end of 2007, the middle class actually began to shrink.
But an interesting thing about this country is that Americans like to think of themselves as being middle class, including many who really don't make enough to actually be in the middle class -- and this has lent itself to there being a slight inflation of the middle class (at least in the minds of the people). But the hard economic reality of the last few years has made some people rethink whether they are middle class or not.
Note in the chart above that even after the recession was in full force in 2008, a majority of Americans (53%) considered themselves to be middle class -- while only 25% of Americans considered themselves to be lower or working class. Now it is six years later, and the economy continues to limp along and the jobs are just not returning -- and a significant amount of those who once claimed middle class status are admitting the truth, that they are no longer in good enough economic shape to call themselves middle class.
The chart below shows the class self-identification in 2014. Note that those who say they are middle class has dropped to 44%, while those identifying as lower or working class has grown to about 40%. That's quite a change -- from a difference of 28 points in 2008 to a difference of only 4 points in 2014.
The harsh reality of what has happened to workers in this economy is being realized by many Americans. Now they need to take that reality to the voting booth -- and punish the Republican politicians for changing the economic rules to favor the rich and corporations (to the detriment of all other Americans).
 These numbers are from the Pew Research Center. Their latest survey on this was done between January 15th and 19th of 1,504 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 2.9 points.

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