The share of the nation's income earned by the middle class has fallen to its lowest level in recent decades. It's been surpassed by affluent earners as median wages stagnate and wealth concentrates at the top in a relatively weak economy.

A study by the Pew Research Center highlights the diminished share for the roughly half of U.S. adults who define themselves as "middle class," with incomes ranging from $39,000 to $118,000.

The report describes this group as suffering its "worst decade in modern history," having fallen backward in share of income for the first time since World War II and losing faith in the future.

In all, 85 percent of middle-class Americans say it is more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.


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