A sign that the working class is rising


If you were asked to name your social class, which would you say you belong in: upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, working class, or lower class? 

That’s a question the Gallup polling organization has asked Americans for the last two decades, and some interesting trends are emerging. The portion of poll respondents who call themselves working class has risen from 28% in 2003 to 35% in 2022. The portion saying they belong in the lower class also rose, from 7% to 11% in that time. Middle class and upper middle class, on the other hand, are falling: 46% called themselves middle class in 2003; today 38% do. And upper middle class fell from 17% to 14%. Throughout the period, 1% or 2% called themselves upper class, a sign that the Occupy Wall Street slogan “We are the 99%” was about right. 

The most recent poll took place April 1-19 among a nationally representative sample of 1,018 adults in all 50 states and DC. There are additional interesting results as you drill down into the data to see who called themselves working class: 

  • Young people aged 18-34 were the most likely to identify as working class: 49%, compared with 37% of those age 35-54, and 25% for those over 55.
  • Non-white respondents were also more likely to say they’re working class: 46% compared to 30% for whites.
  • Republican and independent voters were also more likely to say they’re working class — 38%, compared to 30% of Democrats.
  • As might be expected, college graduates were less likely to say they’re working class—17%, compared to 45% of those without a college degree. 

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