Nevada's Lower Class Rises As Upper and Middle Classes Fall


Alexa Ard/KUNR

New research shows the number of low-income earners is on the rise in Nevada, especially in Reno. 

America’s middle class is shrinking.

A new study by the Pew Research Center shows a substantial drop in the number of middle-income households between 2000 and 2014.

Middle income is defined as roughly $42,000 to $125,000 for a family of three.

It’s not all bad — in some cities incomes rose overall — but in Las Vegas and to a greater extent in Reno, upper and middle classes declined while the lower class grew.

The number of low-income earners increased by 4.4 percent in Las Vegas, and 7.2 percent in Reno, one of the sharpest rises nationwide.

"What I would say is Nevada's economy is definitely in transition and it has been since the 1970s," said Mark Pingle, a professor of economics at University of Nevada Reno, "From the late 1970s to present, we've been diversifying away from gaming even though you see these terrific hotels built in Las Vegas," 

The loss of manufacturing jobs has accounted for much of the middle class disappearance in other cities, but Pingle believes the country will start to move back towards manufacturing because technology has brought labor costs down in the United States.

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Pingle said the era with the largest middle class was in the late 70s, but the average income was lower then. He said the problem now is the gap between incomes. 

"What has happened is those at the bottom have not gone up as much as the upper third has," he said.

Pingle points to globalization as one of the causes for the rift. He said if you own a business globalization makes the whole world your market place but if you're in the lower income bracket you're competing with the rest of the world. 


From NPR: In 9 out of 10 Cities Middle-Class Families Are Slipping Away



Mark Pingle, professor of economics, University of Nevada, Reno

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