The middle class is shrinking, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. What will happen if it disappears completely?

Rakesh Kochhar has done research to show what “middle class” really means. Kochar’s team found that the share of Americans classified as middle class has fallen from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2021. The study found that the number of their incomes also fell. It went to upper-class Americans, who make up a fifth of the population but hold half of its income.

Gary Hoover, who teaches economics at Tulane, believes that the waning financial power of the middle class affects almost every major problem in America.

“It’s not that the middle class is somehow broken. What’s happening is, I think, the paths to the middle class are overlapping,” Hoover said.

The struggle of many to afford housing, the lack of public school funding and health care costs directly hit those in the middle.

Kochhar’s study looked at who had increased or decreased income status over the past 50 years. The group that has suffered the biggest drop is those with higher education.

“I’m not going to get the same education as before, which means I won’t get the income I had before. Now I have no accumulated wealth. It is less likely that I will be able to afford to send my children to higher education. Now the cycle is just repeating itself,” Hoover said.

It seems strange to talk about the departure of the middle class when it still makes up half of the country. It seems like a difficult phrase to define that means different things to different people.

“Just as they were blocked today, in the same way we can unblock them. We must not continue this trend. Trends can be reversed,” Hoover said.

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