The middle class isn't what it used to be, as the rich have gotten richer while America's middle-income households have been hollowed out, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
The nation's middle class, long a pillar of the U.S. economy and foundation of the American dream, has shrunk to the point where it no longer constitutes the majority of the adult population, according to a new major study.
The Pew Research Center report released Wednesday put in sharp relief the nation's increasing income divide, which is certain to be a central issue in the 2016 presidential race. It also highlights how various economic and demographic forces have eroded long-held ideals about maintaining a strong, majority middle class.
Many analysts and policymakers regard the shift as worrisome for economic and social stability. Middle-income households have been the bedrock of consumer spending, and many liberals in particular view the declining middle as part of a troubling trend of skewed income gains among the nation's richest families.
Median-income voters, particularly non-college-educated men, are also at the core of billionaire Donald Trump's surprising surge in the Republican presidential campaign. His supporters' sense that their once-secure middle-class standing is in danger of slipping appears to be fueling much of the anger against the government and immigrant groups.
Whites are dying-off too:
Starting around the turn of the millennium, the United States experienced the most alarming change in mortality rates since the AIDS epidemic. This shift was caused, not by some dreadful new disease, but by drugs and alcohol and suicide — and it was concentrated among less-educated, late-middle-aged whites.
We had hints that something like this was happening. We knew suicide was increasing among the middle-aged, that white women without a high school degree were struggling with health issues, that opiate addiction was a plague in working-class communities. But we didn’t know it was all bad enough to send white death rates modestly upward in the richest nation in the world.
Now we know, thanks to a new paper from the Nobel laureate Angus Deaton and his wife, Anne Case. And their findings, inevitably, are the latest ideological Rorschach test in the debate over how to save the American working class.
Disenfranchised, dying, discriminated against, economically left behind, and persecuted on all fronts by the new international regime occupying Washington, Whites are also projected to become a US minority:
The nation’s demographics are on a clear trajectory: White people are dying faster than they are being born, which means they are on target to become a minority in the United States in 30 years.
For the third year in a row, deaths of non-Hispanic whites outnumbered births, according to detailed population estimates for states and counties released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“This is without historical precedent,” said Kenneth Johnson, the senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy. “The minority population is growing, and the non-Hispanic white population is not.”
Whites currently account for 62 percent of the population but 78 percent of deaths, according to Johnson’s analysis.
Their median age — half are older and half younger — has hit an all-time high of 43, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. For the first time, whites are in the minority among children under the age of 5.
“Since 2010, the overall under age 20 population is declining, while working ages and especially seniors are growing,” Frey said.
White populations under 20 declined in 46 states — in all but Hawaii, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
“So we are having an older white population, with whites, once again, showing a minority of births,” Frey said. “These new estimates — showing declining white births, minority white toddlers and pervasive losses in the nation’s under age 20 white population — indicate that future generations almost everywhere will be increasingly made up of minorities.”