In 2012, 8.4% of Americans identified themselves as “lower class,” the highest rating ever recorded in the four decades the General Social Survey has asked the question.
The Los Angeles Times says that for people like Chris Roquemore, who are part of the growing long-term unemployed, America’s economic morass has “changed the way he thought of himself.”
The General Social Survey, which is a project of the Norc research group at the University of Chicago, also found that less than 55% of Americans agreed with the statement “people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living,” the lowest response rate since 1987.
The Times says even though Census data reveals high poverty rates in the 80s and 90s, something deeper, more fundamental appears to be altering the way Americans view themselves economically.
Indeed, even a college education–once considered a ticket to the middle class and a guarantor of a decent job–is not enough to bolster Americans’ views of themselves. From 2002 to 2012, the percentage of those who considered themselves “lower class” who had completed one to four years of college doubled from 2.6% to 5.8%.
Census data released today reveal that the U.S. poverty rate has not changed from last year. Today, a record 46.5 million Americans live in poverty.