The shrinking middle class

by Ryan Streeter on January 26, 2015. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

The middle class, if defined as households making between $35,000 and $100,000 a year, shrank in the final decades of the 20th century. For a welcome reason, though: More Americans moved up into what might be considered the upper middle class or the affluent. Since 2000, the middle class has been shrinking for a decidedly more alarming reason: Incomes have fallen.

That’s Alicia Parlapiano, Robert Gebeloff, and Shan Carter at The Upshot, in a post with some pretty compelling graphs.  It has a longer companion article in the Times that is also worth reading.

Here’s the main visual on which the rest are based:

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Read the whole thing. I think the following sums up a lot of where the national economic mood is resting these days, though:

Younger households have borne the brunt of the slowdown. Those headed by people aged 30 through 44 are more likely to be lower income — and less likely to be middle income — than in 2000. Older households have done better. With more people working into their late 60s and wages rising for older workers, households headed by people 65 and older are now more likely to be middle or upper income than in the past, though they are still overrepresented in the lower-income group.