WASHINGTON — The middle class is shrinking and is now barely a majority in the United States, underscoring the challenge President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney face as they argue over who can best protect the wealth of struggling Americans.
The proportion of middle-income earners, or those making from $39,000 to $118,000 for a family of three, narrowed as the housing-market crash erased two decades of gains in wealth since 2001 and average incomes fell for the first time since World War II, a Pew Research Center report shows. The middle class shrank to 51 percent of adults in 2011 from 61 percent in 1971.
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