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Middle-class areas shrinking in US

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America’s middle class is disappearing as growing income inequality creates more families in areas either mostly rich or poor, a report says.

Around 44 per cent of families live in middle-income neighbourhoods – down from 65 per cent in 1970, the Stanford University study shows.

Meanwhile a third of families in the U.S. now live in either rich or poor areas, which has more than doubled on the 1970 figure of 15 per cent.

Some of the middle class have fallen into the poorer classes as jobs are lost in sectors such as manufacturing, reported the New York Times.

But at the same time many of the rich are transforming areas where middle-class and lower income families now cannot afford to live.

The biggest rises in income gaps over the last decade came in Detroit, Michigan; Greensboro, North Carolina; Oklahoma City; and Toledo, Ohio.

‘Rising inequality is beginning to produce a two-tiered society in America,’ Harvard University sociologist William J. Wilson told the New York Times.

‘More affluent citizens live lives fundamentally different from the middle- and lower-income groups. This divide decreases a sense of community.’

Thinning: This graphic from the report shows how the American middle class has been shrinking over the period between 1970 and 2007

Rising trend: This graph shows how low-income and high-income families in the U.S. are becoming more segregated from all other families

‘Rising inequality is beginning to produce a two-tiered society in America. The more affluent citizens live lives fundamentally different from the middle- and lower-income groups. This divide decreases a sense of community’ William Julius Wilson, Harvard University sociologist

The gap is widening because children in poorer areas often have less chance of going to better schools and lack strong local support networks.

The gap in standardised test results between rich and poor children is now two-fifths bigger than it was in 1970.

Rich families are becoming more isolated and double now live in affluent areas, compared to in 1970, reported the New York Times.

The present-day figures are based on statistics from 2007, which was the last year captured by data in the study – part of research project ‘US2010’.


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4 Responses to " Middle-class areas shrinking in US "

  1. Joe says:

    To many manufacturing jobs have been transferred to northern Mexico and China and the pacific rim.I remember back in 1984 I would see advertisements in the wall street journal in one section of the wsj.Foreign governments from the pacific rim countries would encourage American companies to relocate to their countries and receive twenty year tax holidays.In 2008 the Hershey’s candy company opened a new faciliy to make some of their candy in Monterrey,Mexico,they shut down some manufacturing plants and consolidated some other plants and terminated employment with some of their unionized employees and move the jobs to Mexico and now Hershey’s pays there Mexican peasants $5 a day.The Reese’s peanut butter cups and the York peppermint pattys and the kool-aid powdered drink mix and some Nabisco crackers are manufactured in Mexico.This means that the jobs have moved to Mexico and pay starvation wages to the Mexican peasants.It’s up to the congress and Obama to stop all this outsourcing ofmiddle-class jobs to Mexico and China and CAFTA countries.Makes more sense to me if these jobs stayed in the U.S.A.,because the money earned by U.S. citizens pays for the different types of taxes to support state and municipal governments and retirees.The OWS protestors should be protesting the outsourcing of middle-class American jobs.

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  2. Jean-Francois Morf says:

    1% chanting Allelujah:


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  3. Joe says:

    That city in the photo looks like it might be Pheonix,Arizona or Las Vagas,Nevada.Looks like those people in that photo look like the future of middle-class white America,destitute and living in tent cities.Soon the African-Americans will be joining them!

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  4. Jack Longchamps says:

    Yep it´s no different in Europe – the jobs
    here of course have all moved to China.

    I am however not so sure if the upper echelons
    of society live such fundamentally different lives –
    I mean a 100 $ meal will be much better
    than a 10 $ one, but will a 10 k $ meal
    be so much better than a 1 k $ one ?
    Hardly possible, it´s all in the mind.

    So this is all pretty bad and teaches us how
    awfully much influence a citizen has
    in our democracies, meaning none at all.
    However it is a logical result of globalization
    and general human condition (greed),
    not necessarily of a sinister plot.

    Everyone who still has the means should try
    to go as independant as possible (off-grid etc.)
    and start stowing away necessities…
    because there´s more to come.

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