That’s according to Pew Research Center, which recently reported that the share of middle class Americans dropped in 203 of the 229 metropolitan areas it analyzed. These include places that were once held up as hubs of manufacturing and industry, where an honest day of work was long accepted as the tradeoff for a comfortable American lifestyle.
The middle class has shrunk so rapidly in recent years, Pew reported, that “it may no longer be the economic majority in the U.S.”
But the news isn’t all terrible. Many Americans no longer defined as middle class made their way into higher earning brackets.
With relatively fewer Americans in the middle-income tier, the economic tiers above and below have grown in significance over time. The share of adults in upper-income households increased in 172 of the 229 metropolitan areas, even as the share of adults in lower-income households rose in 160 metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2014. The shifting economic fortunes of localities were not an either/or proposition: Some 108 metropolitan areas experienced growth in both the lower- and upper-income tiers.
Still, the disappearance of a distinctly American middle class is a symptom of broader economic trouble.
Again from Pew:
Nationwide, the median income of U.S. households in 2014 stood at 8% less than in 1999, a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-09. The decline was pervasive, with median incomes falling in 190 of 229 metropolitan areas examined.
Middle class or not, that means government mishandling of the economy is costing all American workers money.
And with central bankers discussing insane monetary meddling like negative interest rates, things aren’t going to improve any time soon.