A third of Americans consider themselves lower class, according to Pew research, compared with a quarter before the recession. The reason? The decline of mid-skilled, mid-wage jobs.
The PEW Charitable Trusts defines middle class households as "those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state's median income." There is a lot riding on that definition, however. If the state's median income is low and the cost of living is high, many families who fit the definition of "middle class" may not have access to things we often associate with being middle class, including education, owning a home, or even just a savings account. The bad news is that, by various measurements, the middle class in every state is shrinking.
The American workforce spent the better part of the 20th century making a major shift. At the beginning, 50 percent of the workforce worked in agriculture. Now, the same jobs only account for 10 percent of the workforce. A similar shift is happening with jobs in industries like manufacturing and information processing.