Thursday, October 17, 2019

White Working Class Is in Decline

The white working class is declining not only as a share of the total U.S. population but also in absolute numbers, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis.

Today, only 40 percent of Americans aged 25 or older are white working class (defined as non-Hispanic Whites aged 25 or older without a four-year college degree). This is much lower than the 71 percent share of the population this group accounted for in 1975. During the past four-plus decades, the nonwhite working class (Hispanics, Blacks, and other minorities without a four-year degree) and non-Hispanic White college graduates have been growing. Each of these groups is now 25 percent of the population, up from 15 and 12 percent in 1975, respectively. The remaining 10 percent of the population is accounted for by nonwhites with a four-year college degree, up from 1 percent in 1975.

Social and demographic change explains the decline of the white working class—the growing share of non-Hispanic Whites who are earning a college degree and the rapid growth of minority populations relative to the non-Hispanic White population. "Whatever the cause," conclude the researchers, "the decline of this group will undoubtedly continue to have lasting economic and social consequences for the U.S."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The White Working Class: National Trends, Then and Now

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