Majority of American Adults Identify As Middle-Class

June 26, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Household Income | Youth & Gen X

A solid majority (62%) of American adults identify as either upper-middle or middle-class, with a healthy plurality (44%) saying they belong to the middle class, according to new survey results from Gallup. The report notes that middle-class identification has returned to pre-recession levels; as recently as 2015, only about half identified as upper-middle or middle class.

Back then, almost as many Americans (48%) identified as working class or lower class.

There is a group that continues to lean more heavily towards working or lower class than the rest, though: Millennials. In this latest survey, just 50% of 18-29-year-olds identified as upper-middle or middle-class, compared to 49% who see themselves as working or lower class.

In fact, Millennials seem to be making little progress on this front. The 50% identifying as upper-middle or middle class is up just 3 points from 2015. By comparison, during the same time frame, the proportion of Gen Xers (50-64) identifying as middle-class jumped from 49% to 66%.

The results are a reminder that while Millennials are a prized generational target for marketers, their overall financial health is far below that of Boomers.

Back in 2013 – when Gallup tracking data shows that fewer than half of Millennials identified as middle class – an IRI study found that 38% of Millennials were having difficulty affording groceries (must’ve been the avocado sandwiches…!) A year earlier, a study from WSL/Strategic Retail revealed that 1 in 4 18-34-year-olds felt that they did not have enough money to cover their basic needs.

About the Data: The results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-11, 2017, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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