What The Fact: America's shrinking middle class


hey everybody and welcome to what the

fact I'm Aaron this is Katie we're

editors with politifact and we're

sorting out fact from fiction and we did

a little bit of a road trip right Katie

yeah we took a field trip to Iowa for

the Polk County Democrats annual steak

fry this was a huge event that attracted

17 Democratic candidates for president

and we were trolling listening out from

back Jack's claims a good vet check yeah

and one that caught both of our ears

with something Jill Biden said about

middle-class income that we hadn't

really heard before take a listen

today majority the middle class can't

look their children in the eye they

don't believe they can say it's going to

be okay they don't believe that their

child will do as well as they did we've

never ever had that happen in America

we're no longer the wealthiest middle

class in the world our akt so when Joe

Biden made those comments we texted each

other immediately where our different

ends of the steak fry because we wanted

to check that claim that we are no

longer the wealthiest middle class in

the world yeah so we're gonna do a fact

check but first we're gonna find out

what do we know about the size of the

middle class and one thing we learned

from newsy is that it is shrinking

politicians on both sides of the aisle

talk about supporting the middle class

but in the u.s. that group is shrinking

Pew Research Center data shows that in

1971 sixty-one percent of adults lived

in middle-income households by 2016 that

number was down to 52% so what income

bracket were those people absorbed into

before 2000 people leaving the middle

class were more likely to join the upper

class but after 2000 the opposite was

true people were more likely to drop to

the lower income group so why is the

number of middle class Americans

decreasing there are several factors

wage growth has a direct impact on

pocketbooks since the Great Recession

wages have been going up but pay rates

for the highest earners have gone up

faster than others and the top one

percent has seen significantly higher

wage growth than ever

one else then there's the cost of

everyday needs health care costs like

prescription drugs and visiting the

doctor have risen faster than the median

income in the US the same is true for

child care housing and education and

while plenty of families have stayed in

the middle class a growing number are

going into debt to do it Americans as a

whole now have over thirteen point eight

trillion dollars in debt a number that's

gone up nearly every quarter for the

past six years economists politicians

and other experts have a variety of

ideas to help strengthen the middle

class those include increasing the

minimum wage providing paid family or

sick leave and creating tax benefits to

help the middle class ok Katie so now

back to Joe Biden he said we are no

longer the wealthiest middle class in

the world how does the truth of me to

rate that claim it rates mostly true

that means it's accurate but it needs a

bit of clarification so Aaron let's go

through the reasons why this rates the

mostly true yeah there are three things

I want to point out first

we're not talking about wealth the way

Joe Biden said we're actually about

income so how much money you're making

versus how much money and possessions

you have second this is a study that

comes from a group called lis it looked

at data from 2010 now that data is sound

but basically what it found is that

Canada had tied the United States when

it comes to median income and the

researchers say that by now Canada has

passed it so that's what Biden was

referencing but there's another study as

well yeah number three there's more

research from the Pew Research Center

that basically looks at average

household income and what it found is

that a couple of European countries are

now doing better than the United States

one of them is really tiny Luxembourg

the other is a little bigger Norway so

those are the main reasons why this

rates mostly true but I think there's a

little bit more context as to why this

is happening in the New York Times story

which is about the thing that Biden was

citing they said that the US educational

attainment rose more slowly than other

industrialized countries American

companies don't distribute as much of

their profits to workers as other places

do and Americans comparatively receive

smaller races than around

you know the economy is gonna be a big

issue not only in the Democratic primary

but all the way through election day you

can see the latest that blip a calm