States Where the Middle Class Is Disappearing

February 19, 2019 by Thomas C. Frohlich

Source: GeorgePeters / Getty Images

The American middle class — once a major point of pride in the United States — has changed considerably over the course of recent decades. The typical occupations held by middle-class Americans have changed over the years, and a greater amount of all income generated has moved into the hands of individuals and households in the top shares of earners.

While the United States remains one of the most prosperous countries in the world, rising income inequality has intensified discussions discussions of how resources are distributed in general and to the middle class in particular.

One way to examine the American middle class is to look at where middle-income earners are residing, and how the geographic concentration of the nation’s economic majority has changed.

To identify the states where the middle class is disappearing, 24/7 Wall St. compared the share of households in each state within the middle range of nationwide incomes in 1999 and in 2017 using the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 1-year ACS microdata and 2000 decennial Census microdata. Across the country in 1999, the middle three quintiles included annual incomes from $17,196 to $79,375. In 2017, middle incomes ranged from $24,626 to $121,116.

Our ranking is based on the percentage point change in these shares of middle-class households between 2017 and 1999, the earliest year for which state-level household income data is available.

Incomes are lower in some states than in others and this is true throughout the period reviewed. However, the states with the largest increases in the share of households earning middle-incomes do not fall necessarily into lower- or higher-income states.

Click here to read about states where the middle class is disappearing.

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50. Mississippi
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +1.5 ppt. (from 60.0% in ’99 to 61.6% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $31,330 (2nd lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $43,529 (2nd lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +4.9% (11th smallest)

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49. Michigan
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +1.5 ppt. (from 62.2% in ’99 to 63.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $44,667 (16th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $54,909 (18th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +0.2% (the smallest)

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48. Nevada
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +1.4 ppt. (from 65.1% in ’99 to 66.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $44,581 (17th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $58,003 (25th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +50.0% (the largest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

47. Connecticut
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +1.3 ppt. (from 55.7% in ’99 to 57.0% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $53,935 (2nd highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $74,168 (5th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +5.4% (12th smallest)

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46. Idaho
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +1.0 ppt. (from 66.8% in ’99 to 67.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $37,572 (15th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $52,225 (11th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +32.7% (5th largest)

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45. Alaska
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.8 ppt. (from 60.4% in ’99 to 61.2% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $51,571 (4th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $73,181 (7th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +18.0% (16th largest)

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44. Hawaii
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.6 ppt. (from 58.6% in ’99 to 59.2% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $49,820 (6th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $77,765 (3rd highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +17.8% (17th largest)

Source: Thinkstock

43. Kentucky
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.5 ppt. (from 61.6% in ’99 to 62.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $33,672 (7th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $48,375 (7th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +10.2% (22nd smallest)

Source: collins_family / Flickr

42. Wyoming
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.4 ppt. (from 65.3% in ’99 to 65.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $37,892 (16th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $60,434 (19th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +17.3% (19th largest)

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41. Georgia
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.4 ppt. (from 61.7% in ’99 to 62.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $42,433 (20th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $56,183 (19th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +27.4% (9th largest)

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40. Kansas
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.3 ppt. (from 65.7% in ’99 to 66.0% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,624 (25th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $56,422 (21st lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +8.4% (17th smallest)

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39. Missouri
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.2 ppt. (from 64.4% in ’99 to 64.6% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $37,934 (17th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $53,578 (15th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +9.3% (19th smallest)

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38. Alabama
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.2 ppt. (from 61.5% in ’99 to 61.6% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $34,135 (9th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $48,123 (6th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +9.6% (20th smallest)

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37. Oklahoma
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.1 ppt. (from 64.0% in ’99 to 64.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $33,400 (6th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $50,051 (8th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +13.9% (25th largest)

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36. Texas
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: +0.1 ppt. (from 61.7% in ’99 to 61.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $39,927 (22nd lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $59,206 (23rd highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +35.7% (4th largest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

35. Maine
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.1 ppt. (from 65.1% in ’99 to 65.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $37,240 (14th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $56,277 (20th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +4.8% (9th smallest)

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34. Florida
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.1 ppt. (from 64.0% in ’99 to 63.9% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $38,819 (18th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $52,594 (12th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +31.3% (6th largest)

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33. New Mexico
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.1 ppt. (from 62.4% in ’99 to 62.2% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $34,133 (8th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $46,744 (5th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +14.8% (23rd largest)

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32. Montana
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.3 ppt. (from 65.4% in ’99 to 65.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $33,024 (5th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $53,386 (14th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +16.4% (21st largest)

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31. Delaware
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.4 ppt. (from 62.5% in ’99 to 62.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $47,381 (9th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $62,852 (17th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +22.8% (12th largest)

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

30. Tennessee
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.5 ppt. (from 64.2% in ’99 to 63.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $36,360 (12th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $51,340 (10th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +18.0% (15th largest)

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29. Ohio
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.5 ppt. (from 64.2% in ’99 to 63.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,956 (23rd highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $54,021 (16th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +2.7% (5th smallest)

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28. Arizona
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.5 ppt. (from 64.5% in ’99 to 63.9% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,558 (24th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $56,581 (23rd lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +36.8% (3rd largest)

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27. Colorado
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.7 ppt. (from 62.9% in ’99 to 62.2% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $47,203 (10th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $69,117 (11th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +30.4% (7th largest)

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26. Nebraska
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.8 ppt. (from 68.3% in ’99 to 67.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $39,250 (20th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $59,970 (21st highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +12.2% (23rd smallest)

Source: RudyBalasko / Getty Images

25. Illinois
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.8 ppt. (from 60.9% in ’99 to 60.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $46,590 (13th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $62,992 (16th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +3.1% (6th smallest)

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24. Indiana
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.8 ppt. (from 66.5% in ’99 to 65.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $41,567 (22nd highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $54,181 (17th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +9.6% (21st smallest)

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23. California
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.9 ppt. (from 57.5% in ’99 to 56.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $47,493 (8th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $71,805 (8th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +16.7% (20th largest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

22. New Jersey
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.9 ppt. (from 55.0% in ’99 to 54.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $55,146 (the highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $80,088 (2nd highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +7.0% (13th smallest)

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21. Utah
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -0.9 ppt. (from 67.7% in ’99 to 66.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $45,726 (15th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $68,358 (13th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +38.9% (2nd largest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

20. Maryland
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.0 ppt. (from 58.0% in ’99 to 57.0% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $52,868 (3rd highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $80,776 (the highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +14.3% (24th largest)

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19. West Virginia
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.0 ppt. (from 62.1% in ’99 to 61.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $29,696 (the lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $43,469 (the lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +0.4% (2nd smallest)

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18. Arkansas
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.2 ppt. (from 64.0% in ’99 to 62.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $32,182 (3rd lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $45,869 (3rd lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +12.4% (24th smallest)

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17. South Carolina
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.3 ppt. (from 64.6% in ’99 to 63.3% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $37,082 (13th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $50,570 (9th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +25.2% (11th largest)

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16. Louisiana
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.3 ppt. (from 60.1% in ’99 to 58.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $32,566 (4th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $46,145 (4th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +4.8% (10th smallest)

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

15. Pennsylvania
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.4 ppt. (from 62.9% in ’99 to 61.6% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,106 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $59,195 (24th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +4.3% (7th smallest)

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14. New York
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.4 ppt. (from 57.0% in ’99 to 55.6% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $43,393 (19th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $64,894 (14th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +4.6% (8th smallest)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

13. North Dakota
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.6 ppt. (from 66.9% in ’99 to 65.3% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $34,604 (10th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $61,843 (18th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +17.6% (18th largest)

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12. Minnesota
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.6 ppt. (from 64.1% in ’99 to 62.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $47,111 (11th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $68,388 (12th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +13.4% (25th smallest)

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11. Wisconsin
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.7 ppt. (from 67.2% in ’99 to 65.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $43,791 (18th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $59,305 (22nd highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +8.1% (16th smallest)

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

10. Virginia
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.8 ppt. (from 60.5% in ’99 to 58.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $46,677 (12th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $71,535 (9th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +19.7% (14th largest)

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9. North Carolina
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -1.9 ppt. (from 64.8% in ’99 to 62.9% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $39,184 (19th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $52,752 (13th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +27.6% (8th largest)

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8. Oregon
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.0 ppt. (from 65.1% in ’99 to 63.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,916 (24th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $60,212 (20th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +21.1% (13th largest)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. South Dakota
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.4 ppt. (from 68.3% in ’99 to 65.9% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $35,282 (11th lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $56,521 (22nd lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +15.2% (22nd largest)

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6. Washington
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.6 ppt. (from 63.1% in ’99 to 60.5% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $45,776 (14th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $70,979 (10th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +25.6% (10th largest)

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5. Iowa
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.7 ppt. (from 68.8% in ’99 to 66.1% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $39,469 (21st lowest)
> Median household income in 2017: $58,570 (25th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +7.5% (14th smallest)

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4. Rhode Island
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.9 ppt. (from 60.7% in ’99 to 57.8% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $42,090 (21st highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $63,870 (15th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +1.1% (3rd smallest)

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3. Vermont
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -2.9 ppt. (from 67.5% in ’99 to 64.7% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $40,856 (25th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $57,513 (24th lowest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +2.4% (4th smallest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

2. Massachusetts
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -3.1 ppt. (from 56.0% in ’99 to 52.9% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $50,502 (5th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $77,385 (4th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +8.0% (15th smallest)

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1. New Hampshire
> Chg. in share of households in the middle class: -4.3 ppt. (from 64.7% in ’99 to 60.4% in ’17)
> Median household income in 1999: $49,467 (7th highest)
> Median household income in 2017: $73,381 (6th highest)
> 1999-2017 population growth: +8.7% (18th smallest)