What Has Happened to Middle-Income Households since 1945?

I dug up at the US Census Bureau serveral reports about family and individual income and created a series of graphs plotting the income distribution of households under $100,000 a year adjusted for inflation. (Pages 17, 18, 19 from my Income Guide)

I am defining middle-income households as $30,000-$80,000. One of the stories these graph tell is that for 20+ years after 1945 more households entered the "middle class". However, over the next 40 years, the percent of middle-income households shrank in part because the percent of households with more than $80,000 a year grew. 

IncomeGuide_2013_Jan17_RGB_page 17_17.png
IncomeGuide_2013_Jan17_RGB_page 18_18.png
IncomeGuide_2013_Jan17_RGB_page 19_19.png

Graphs created in OmniGraphSketcher and annotated in Illustrator. Data from the US Census. You take a look at some of the older reports they have online here: 

US Census Bureau. “Families and Individual Money Income in the United States: 1945. Table 2.” September 2011. http://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-002.pdf.

———. “Income of Families and Persons in the United States: 1950. Table 1.” September 2011.  http://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-009.pdf.

———. “Income of Families and Persons in the United States: 1960. Table 5.” September 2011.  http://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-037.pdf.

———. “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010. Table A-2.” September 2011. http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-239.pdf.

 

Has Middle America's Wages Stagnated?

{Click on the image to take a closer look} Avg Hourly Earnings magnafing glass

I found a Federal Reserve article that analyzed the change in Average Hourly Earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers. After adjusting for inflation using the Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) {instead of the Consumer Price Index-Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)} and including an estimate for worker's benefits, the author concluded that workers' hourly earnings (wages plus benefits) actually increased by 16% over 30 years (1975-2005) rather than decreased. Here, I graphed the full history, 1964-2006, but used the approach laid out in the article to show the effect of inflation and benefits. BTW, if you earned $16.76 an hour in 2006 that gave you an annual income of $33,520 (assuming you worked full-time).

See also: Average Income in the United States Total Income of Top, Middle, & Bottom

[tags]income distribution, income inequality, Federal Reserve, wages, middle class[/tags]

Addendum: This was past on to me from a reader who found it on Marginal Revolution