Note people making less than $9/hour are now officially "poor." How low must "middle income" shrink before half the middle class knows it is poor? The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour so people making as much as $1.75/hour over minimum wage are poor. http://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...c29-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html?hpid=z3 The middle class lost ground again last year, falling to an all-time low in their share of how much income they take in, new census data released Wednesday showed. People with incomes between $20,263 and $62,434 collectively earned less than 24 percent of all income in 2011, even though they made up 40 percent of the population. The dip was part of a long, steady decline dating back to at least the 1960s, when the middle class shared 29 percent of all income. In contrast, the census data shows, the bottom fifth held its own as the poverty level flattened out, while the top fifth increased its share to half of all income. The top 5 percent gained the most income, rising almost 5 percent in a single year. “This is a huge drop,” said Tim Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “It’s the working class. Their pay rate has gone down, the number of hours that everyone in the house works has gone down, their homes have lost value. These are the people really ravaged by the recession.” As a snapshot of a nation recovering from one of its worst recessions, the census statistics showed an upper class that has more than regained its losses and a lower class that has found a floor to their fall. The nation’s official poverty rate in 2011 was 15 percent, lower than many poverty experts were forecasting. The number of people living in poverty last year, 46.2 million, also was virtually unchanged from 2010. Since 2007, the last full year before the recession began, the poverty rate is up by 2.5 percentage points.. Despite an official recovery now entering its fourth year, the census said median household income declined by 1.5 percent, to $50,054.