Global Independent Analytics

The middle class is vanishing in America's cities

How and why the American middle class is being destroyed?

Andy Kiersz for Business Insider reports: The middle class in America's cities has shrunk dramatically in the 21st century.

A Pew Research Center examination of Census Bureau data looked at the state of the middle class in America's metropolitan areas. Pew described "middle-income" households as those whose income fell between two-thirds and twice the national median household income, adjusted for household size and for the local cost of living in each metro area.

The results of the study are discouraging: Between 2000 and 2014, the two years Pew examined in the study, 203 out of the 229 metropolitan areas analyzed had a decline in the rate of their populations that fell in that middle-income range.

Business Insider provides a map demonstrating those changes. The darker red mark each metro area, the more the middle-income group shrank as a percentage of that metro area's population between 2000 and 2014. The handful of blue metro areas represent those that saw an increase in the middle-income share.

The matter has contributed to the rise in anxiety throughout the American community, which has served to illustrate the growth of the insurgent candidacies of probable Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Considering the fact that the U.S. is a land of vast proportions, the actual reasons for such a decline vary among metro areas. Pew pointed out the examples of Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Midland, Texas. Both cities saw large declines in their middle-income shares — but for very different reasons.

Goldsboro, being a railroad hub and home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, has experienced a significant rise in the share of lower-income households that earned less than two-thirds of the national median income.

Midland, on the other hand, observed a big jump in the share of upper-income households earning more than twice the adjusted national median income. Perhaps, it might be connected to the US shale-oil boom of 2014.

The news nationwide, however, is more bad than good. Pew has determined that the decline in the middle class is correlated with an overall increase in inequality in the US, which could lead to somewhat appalling consequences for American society.

"The current and future status of the American middle class continues to be a central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. Moreover, new economic research suggests that a struggling middle class could be holding back the potential for future economic growth," Pew wrote in its report. "The national trend is clear — the middle class is losing ground as a share of the population, and its share of aggregate U.S. household income is also declining."

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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