America's middle class is hollowing out.
In cities across the country from Seattle to Boston, the middle class is shrinking as more Americans either climb up into higher income brackets or slip further into lower income groups, according to Pew Research Center data released this week. In nine out of 10 cities, there are fewer middle-class families since 2000.
"These trends in the middle class are reflective of rising income inequality," said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. "This trend has been part and parcel of the national economy for the last 30 to 40 years."
From 2000 to 2014, the share of adults living in middle income households fell in 203 of 229 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to Pew's analysis of government data.
While it's known that rising income disparity is fueling the shrinking middle, the new analysis shows this national trend playing out in many cities — with the middle-class decline described as "often substantial," according to the report.
The drop in the middle-class share measured 6 percentage points or more in 53 metro areas, compared with a four-point drop nationally.
Drilling down further, the new data reveals the availability of a skilled local workforce and high quality jobs, whether tied to technology or the oil industry, can make or break the ability of families to accumulate wealth.
"Being skilled is useful," Kochhar said. "High tech will always rule up the income ladder. And global changes matter," he said.