States Where the Middle Class Is Being Left Behind

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3. Wisconsin
> 10-yr. chg. in middle class income share: -0.7 ppts.
> Middle class share of income: 15.9% (2007), 15.2% (2016)
> Upper class share of income: 46.8% (2007), 48.7% (2016)
> Lower class share of income: 4.1% (2007), 3.7% (2016)

The median income of the wealthiest fifth of households in Wisconsin rose by 22.5% over the last 10 years. During that time, incomes of the middle class increased by just 13.1%, and incomes of the fifth poorest households grew by a mere 7.7%. These are some of the largest class disparities in income growth of any state, and contributed to the shrinking of Wisconsin’s middle class over that time. The share of income in the state earned by the middle class fell from 15.9% in 2007 to 15.2% in 2016, the third largest percentage-point decline in the country.

The relatively slow growth of middle class incomes may be partially due to the decline of certain blue collar industries. While 15.9% of the state’s workforce is employed in the manufacturing industry today — the second largest share of any state — the number of jobs in the industry fell 7.2% over the past decade, one of the larger declines in the country.

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2. Louisiana
> 10-yr. chg. in middle class income share: -0.7 ppts.
> Middle class share of income: 14.5% (2007), 13.8% (2016)
> Upper class share of income: 50.7% (2007), 52.8% (2016)
> Lower class share of income: 3.0% (2007), 2.8% (2016)

The distribution of wealth in Louisiana, already among the worst of any state, became even more uneven in the last decade. The share of income earned by the middle quintile of earners in the state fell from 14.5% in 2007 — the sixth smallest share in the country — to 13.8% in 2016, now the second smallest share and second largest decline of any state. The median income of the wealthiest fifth of households increased 20.5% over the last decade, nearly twice the 10.3% increase among the middle class — the third largest difference of any state. The relatively slow growth in middle quintile incomes may have been partially due to the state’s declining oil industry, which supports a large number of middle class households. Employment in mining and logging fell 27.4% over the last 10 years, one of the largest contractions of any state.

The rapid growth of upper class incomes has likely contributed to the increase in the cost of real estate in Louisiana, and at the expense of the middle class. The share of households earning between $35,000 and $75,000 a year that pay at least 30% of their income on housing rose from 15.7% in 2007 to 18.4% in 2016, one of the largest increases of any state.

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1. Montana
> 10-yr. chg. in middle class income share: -1.0 ppts.
> Middle class share of income: 15.5% (2007), 14.5% (2016)
> Upper class share of income: 48.0% (2007), 50.4% (2016)
> Lower class share of income: 3.8% (2007), 3.6% (2016)

The income generated by the middle fifth of households in Montana fell from 15.5% of all income in 2007 — one of the larger shares in the country — to just 14.5% in 2016, now one of the smaller shares and the largest decline of any state. Like the nation as a whole, the shrinking of the middle class is likely due to the rapid income growth among the upper class. The median income of the top fifth of households rose by 29.6% from 2007 to 2016, nearly twice the 15.2% income growth experienced by the middle class — nearly the largest differential of any state.

The rapid growth of upper class incomes has likely increased the cost of real estate throughout the state and made housing less affordable for many members of the middle class. The cost of the typical home in Montana rose 27.8% over the past decade, the sixth most of any state. The share of households earning between $35,000 and $75,000 a year that spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs rose from 17.0% in 2007 to 21.9% in 2016 — the fourth largest increase in the country.