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America’s Upper Middle Class Feeling the Pinch Too

  • Household debt composition has shifted away from mortgage debt
  • Net worth of the bottom 90 percent shrinks say Fed data
A pedestrian walks past a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Glendale, California. 

A pedestrian walks past a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Glendale, California. 

Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images North America

Newly available net worth data from the Federal Reserve suggests that the “left-behind” contagion has spread to all Americans aside from the top 10 percent. While still wealthier overall than most other groups, even the upper-middle class is feeling the pinch of income stagnation. The growth rate of this group’s incomes is lagging behind that of those both lower and higher on the socioeconomic ladder.

The cost of many products and services the upper middle class buys, from autos to college educations, is outpacing overall inflation. While having access to credit, these households are increasingly tapping into costlier forms of debt.