Developed in collaboration with the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, By a Thread: The New Experience of America's Middle Class looks at the financial security of the middle class using the innovative Middle Class Security Index, rating household stability across five core economic factors: assets, educational achievement, housing costs, budget and healthcare. The Index provides a comprehensive portrait of how well middle-class families are faring in each of these areas, with spotlight on the strengths and vulnerabilities of today's middle class.

Top Facts:

  • Only 31 percent of middle-income families match our profile for being securely middle class.That is, despite falling into the broad range that defines middle-class “income, fewer than one in three families has the necessary combination of other factors to ensure middle-class security.
  • More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever—that is, no financial assets or debt levels that exceed their assets.
  • Twenty-one percent of middle-class families have less than $100 per week remaining after meeting essential living expenses. These families are living from paycheck to paycheck with very little margin of security.
  • In nearly one out of four middle-class families (23 percent), at least one family member lacks health insurance of any kind.
  • Twenty-seven percent of middle-class families do not have any education beyond high school, placing them increasingly at risk in a rapidly developing global economy where higher education skills have become fundamental to achieving middle-class status.