Benjamin H. Harris and Melissa S. Kearney at Brookings:
A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle-Class, by Benjamin H. Harris and Melissa S. Kearney: This Hamilton Project policy paper provides a dozen facts on struggling lower-middle-class families focusing on two key challenges: food insecurity, and the low return to work for struggling lower-middle-class families who lose tax and transfer benefits as their earnings increase. These facts highlight the critical role of federal tax and transfer programs in providing income support to families struggling to remain out of poverty. ...
Here are the facts they discuss:
- More than half of families in the United States earn $60,000 or less per year.
- Nearly half of families in the United States live below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Struggling lower-middle-class families are almost equally headed by single parents and married couples.
- Nearly one out of two families in the struggling lower-middle class is headed by an adult who has attended college.
- Nearly one-third of struggling lower-middle-class families rely on income support from a government program.
- Roughly 40 percent of children in the struggling lower-middle class experience food insecurity or obesity, or both.
- More than one in five children faces food insecurity in thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia.
- Nearly 90 percent of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients live in a household with at least one child, one disabled individual, or one elderly individual.
- America’s tax and transfer system expands the middle class.
- Struggling lower-middle-class families depend on an array of tax and transfer benefits.
- A low-income, single parent can face a marginal tax rate as high as 95 percent.
- The highest marginal tax rates tend to fall on the struggling lower-middle class.