Study: Middle Class Poorer, Earned Less in 2000s
August 22, 2012
According to a study by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends project, middle-class families finished the first decade of the 21st century poorer and with lower incomes than they had 10 years earlier -- the first time this has happened since at least World War II. Researchers found that 85 percent of those polled say that it was harder than before to maintain a middle-class lifestyle in the 2000s. Median household income declined almost $3,500 for a three-person middle-class household to $69,487 a year after adjusting for inflation, the Pew study determined. Meanwhile, the median household's net worth dropped 28 percent to $93,150. Paul Taylor, a Pew executive vice president, remarks, "That the middle class always enjoys a rising standard of living is part of America's sense of itself, and it has always been true -- until now. He went on to describe the 2000s as a "lost decade" for the middle class, adding, "It's been 11 years since the peak in household incomes, and that covers the early part of the decade as well." Finally, the results show even a weakening of Americans' traditional faith that their children will be better off than their parents. Indeed, 43 percent of respondents think their children will be richer than they are, down from 51 percent just four years ago.
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