Most American Families Now Make Less Than $60,000 Per Year

The majority of American families earn $60,000 or less per year, according to a new report by The Hamilton Project.

The report, titled “A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle Class,” lays out the immense challenges facing Americans making between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level (between roughly $15,000 and $60,000 per year). First and foremost among these challenges is income.

Hamilton Project Graph

As the chart above shows, 54 percent of working-age families with children under the age of 18 make $60,000 or less. About 40 percent earn $40,000 or less. On the other end of the spectrum, 24 percent of families earn $100,000 or more, and fewer than 3 percent earn $260,001 or more.

The report notes that “Compared to families living in poverty, families in the struggling lower-middle class are more likely to be headed by a married couple, to have a second adult worker, and to be headed by an individual with some college education.” The two groups face similar challenges, however. For example, more than 24 percent of children in the struggling lower-middle class face food insecurity, and approximately 24 percent are obese.

This statistic underscores the importance of the federal safety net in supporting these families, of whom The Hamilton Project warns “any unanticipated downturns in income could push them into poverty.” More than 20 percent of families in the struggling lower-middle class rely on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — commonly known as food stamps — at some point during the year. About 33 percent rely on at least one safety net program such as SNAP, unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, or disability benefits.

Hamilton Project Graph2

These statistics paint a clearer portrait of the potential impacts of Congress’ cuts to food stamps and planned cuts to federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Not only do millions of Americans who live in poverty rely on the programs, but so do millions of those who live in the middle class, but find it harder each day to keep their heads above water.

Read the full report from The Hamilton Project here.


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