Study: Shrinking middle class

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) - Studies are showing the middle class is getting smaller and the lower class is getting bigger. 22News looks at why the middle-class may be shrinking and what it means for our nation's economy.

President Obama is calling the nation’s distribution of wealth the “defining challenge of our time” and it’s expected to a major focal point of his upcoming State of the Union address.

It’s something one art gallery saleswoman in Springfield says she’s experienced first hand.

“The expendable income that exists 5, 10 years ago, when people were purchasing art and things that are non-essential definitely no longer exists,” Misha Epstein, from Springfield, told 22News.

The big issue used to be the wide gap between the richest people in our country and the poorest.  The new concern is the richest people and everyone else.

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that the number of Americans who call themselves “middle class” is fewer than ever.

Other government data reports that incomes for the wealthiest, 1 percent, Americans rose 31 percent from 2009 to 2012, while everyone else’s income went up an average of one half of a percent.

Investment expert, Mark Teed told 22News, corporate profits are at all time highs, but wages, as a percentage of those corporate profits are at all time lows.

“So I think what’s happening is the resentment that’s sort of welling up a little bit from people sort of in the middle and lower end is that all this money’s being made and it’s not filtering down,” Mark Teed, the Vice President of Investments for Raymond James & Associates in Springfield, said.

Teed also said that an increased use of technology seems to have reduced the number of middle-class employees in many companies over the last six or seven years.

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