What Happened to the Middle Class? [Infographic]

Restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster are struggling, while high end dining is flourishing. At GE, demand for high-end dishwashers is racing ahead of sales growth for mass-market models. This leaves the question, what happened to the middle class?

Middle Class
Source: BestMSWPrograms.com

Generally the Middle-Class is thought of as making <$100,000 a year
But middle-income distribution isn’t close to that.[4]

Many of our middle class skilled workers are being sought in emerging markets.
The global middle class for emerging markets starts at $10 a day.

The growth “sweet spot”
Sweet spot =
Middle class is large enough –> To Accelerate growth–> To grow the middle class more–>
(This is a Virtuous Circle)

America’s highly skilled workers at the upper end of middle class, and into the upper class have exploded.

As well as the wealth of those with capital or many assets.
Household net worth:
Top 1%: $6,816,200
Top 5%: $1,863,800
Top 10%: $952,200
Top 20%: $415,700

And the rest of us:
Median wealth of families by race:
White: $113,149
Asian: $89,339
Latino: $6,325
Black: $5,677

Over the last 25 years, the wealth gap between white and black families:
(Nearly tripling!)
From Key factors:
Because of years of homeownership (27% of difference)
Household income (20% of difference)
Unemployment disparity (9% of difference)
College education (5% of difference)
Inheritance/family preexisting wealth (5% of difference)
But that doesn’t help a majority of families that traditionally built a strong middle class.

The increased wealth of highly skilled workers, the insane wealth of those with capital, and the outsourcing of lower skilled jobs have left us all asking, “what happened to the middle class?”


  1. http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44604-AverageTaxRates.pdf
  2. http://iasp.brandeis.edu/pdfs/Author/shapiro-thomas-m/racialwealthgapbrief.pdf
  3. http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr12-02.pdf
  4. http://www.juancole.com/2011/10/if-american-land-were-distributed-the-way-american-wealth-is.html
  5. http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Issues/Driving-growth/Middle-class-growth-in-emerging-markets—China-and-India-tomorrow-s-middle-classes
  6. http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/26/news/economy/china-middle-class/
  7. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/12/what-is-rich-in-america/
  8. http://www.census.gov

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One Reply to “What Happened to the Middle Class? [Infographic]”

  1. David Hunt, PE

    The middle class has been offshored too.

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