Tags: Middle class | working class | poor | economy

WSJ/NBC Poll: Most Americans Still Say They're Middle Class

By    |   Monday, 16 March 2015 12:49 PM

Most Americans still identify themselves as being working or middle class, despite the battering the economy and job market have taken in the last 15 years, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.

The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted March 1-5, shows that 41 percent of Americans identify as being middle class, 17 as in the upper middle class and 29 percent as being in the working class, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Even more optimistically, only 9 percent identified themselves as being poor. The numbers were virtually the same, given the survey's 3.1 percentage point margin of error, from when a similar series of questions was asked about middle class identity in 1998, when 46 said they were middle class, 16 percent upper middle class, 29 percent working class and 6 percent identifying as poor.

"Given the significant amount of economic dislocation we've had as a country, and the changing nature of the economy, it's remarkable how stable attitudes have been," said Fred Yang, a partner with the Garin Hart Yang Research Group, which produced the NBC/WSJ poll in partnership with Public Opinion Strategies, reports NBC News.

Such numbers, observers say, show the reasoning behind President Barack Obama and other politicians playing toward middle-class economics, while undercutting claims that the middle class seems out of reach for many people in the poor and working classes.

The survey showed that among poor or working-class Americans, 38 percent said they are either very likely or fairly likely to reach the middle class in the next five to seven years, with another 22 percent saying they are somewhat likely to make the climb. The numbers did not change much from the 1998 poll, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In addition, people who who are already in the middle class are becoming more optimistic that they'll stay there. In a poll in September 2013, 43 percent in the middle class said they were worried they would fall out of that income bracket, but in the latest poll, just 36 percent said they were concerned they'd fall out.

The numbers also showed that, despite inflation, people still hold the same ideas when it comes to how much money they need to earn to be in the middle-class bracket. Overall, 35 percent said a household needs to earn between $50,000 and $75,000 to be middle class, the same percentage that said those incomes in the 1998 survey. However, $75,000 in 1998 dollars, adjusted for inflation, is worth more than $107,000 these days.

However, no matter what their earnings, only three percent of those polled called themselves well-to-do, even though Census figures show that more than one-fifth of the households in the country earn more than $100,000 a year, with five percent earning more than $200,000.

Meanwhile, the top five percent of Americans are each worth more than $1.1 million, Federal Reserve data shows.

As politicians aim their efforts at the middle class, the poll also asked which party voters believe better represents middle class voters, and neither party did well. Only 30 percent of the voters said the Democrats do better, while 19 percent picked Republicans.

And among party lines, 56 percent of Democrats said their own party represents the middle class better, while 37 percent of Republicans picked their party.

That reached to potential presidential candidates as well, with one-third of the voters saying Hillary Clinton represents middle-class values, compared to Jeb Bush at 15 percent.

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Most Americans still identify themselves as being working or middle class, despite the battering the economy and job market have taken in the last 15 years, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.
Middle class, working class, poor, economy
Monday, 16 March 2015 12:49 PM
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