A widening US wealth gap is moving more American households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major cities, with fewer remaining in the middle, according to a report.
From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 US metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of US government data.
The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally, according to the Pew, a think tank in Washington, DC.
The shrinking of the middle class at the national level is reaching a point where it may no longer be the economic majority in the US, the study said.
“The changes at the metropolitan level, the subject of this in-depth look at the American middle class, demonstrate that the national trend is the result of widespread declines in localities all around the country,” the Pew said.
Among American adults overall, including those from outside the 229 areas examined in depth, the share living in middle-income households fell from 55 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2014.
The widespread erosion of the middle class took place against the backdrop of a decrease in household incomes in most US metropolitan areas.
Nationwide, the median income of American households fell 8 percent from 1999 to 2014. The decline was pervasive, with median incomes falling in 190 of 229 metropolitan areas examined.
The decline of the middle class is a reflection of rising income inequality in the US, the report said.
A previous report from the Pew Research Center in December, demonstrated that the share of American adults in middle-income households shrank from 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015.
Moreover, new economic research suggests that a struggling middle class could be holding back the potential for future economic growth in the United States.
The current and future status of the American middle class continues to be a central issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign.
The erosion of America’s middle class and the resulting voter frustration has helped fuel the presidential campaigns of Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders.
The declining middle class is often portrayed as a phenomenon brought about by the collapse of well-paying manufacturing jobs over the past three decades thanks to increased automation and competition from China and other low-income developing countries.