September 23, 2017

The median income of American households decreased significantly from 1999 to 2014 across the lower, middle and upper classes, according to Pew Research Center.

The research group found that, “nationwide, the median income of U.S. households in 2014 stood at 8% less than in 1999, a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-2009.”

Median incomes of the middle class and other tiers fell from 1999 to 2014

Despite this drop in income, members of the upper class are still doing well for themselves.

Pew defines upper class as adults whose annual household income is more than double the national median ($55,775 in 2016), after incomes have been adjusted for household size. Smaller households require less to support the same lifestyle as larger households, Pew notes.

Of course, there’s more to class than income — upper class can also be identified by net worth, education and occupation, for example — but household income can be a useful tool by which to group people.

Here’s the breakdown of how much you have to earn each year to be considered upper income, depending on the size of your family:

Household of one: Minimum of $72,126

Household of two: Minimum of $102,001

Household of three: Minimum of $124,925

Household of four: Minimum of $144,251

Household of five: Minimum of $161,277

Who is 'middle income' and 'upper income' in 2014?
What this means is that even with the inevitable inflation that has taken place between 1999 and today, median income still fell for all class levels, but we’re supposed to believe that the income classes remain unchanged. Using the inflation calculator, $186,424 in 1999 would amount to $266,576.36 in 2014, and $274,637.34 today in 2017. This means that there’s no way an income of $173,203 should keep a three person family in the upper class in 2017 when adjusted for inflation.
Do the same math with the median income for the rest of the classes and it becomes clear that class income is being redefined as the top one percent keeps gobbling up more and more of the world’s wealth.
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