The paper claims the upper middle class has grown from 12.9% of the population in 1979 to 29.4% in 2014--in essence, the shrinkage of the "middle class" is not just from households dropping down the ladder but millions of households climbing up to the upper middle class.
While the evidence broadly supports this secular shift--the concentration of income and wealth in the top 20% increases while the wealth and income of the bottom 80% stagnates--I think the claim that 30% of all U.S. households are upper middle class grossly overstates the reality, which is
I've explored these topics in depth over the past few years:
The above essay lists the baseline of 10 minimum metrics of middle class status. In high-cost regions, $100,000 barely qualifies a household as middle class; to be upper middle class, households must earn closer to $200,000.
According to the Social Security Administration data for 2013 (the latest data available), individuals who earn $125,000 or more are in the top 5% of all earners. Two such workers would earn $250,000 together. The 2.8 million households with incomes of $250,000 or more are in the top 2.5%.
I think it is reasonable to define the 12% of households earning between $125,000 (top 15%) and $350,000 (the cut-off for the top 1%) as upper middle class. This is around 14.5 million households, out of a total of 121 million households.
What we're seeing is the inflation of "middle class" to "upper middle class," just as a B grade is now an A, and jobs that don't require a university degree now nominally require a bachelors degree or higher.
, and on the anxieties of those trying to "make it": note that most of the articles are published in magazines/media outlets that appeal to the very upper middle class that's anxious about maintaining their tenuous hold on prosperity:
I've laid out my own bootstrap blueprint in (hint: don't cling to credentials and privilege as your strategy--acquire skills and entrepreneurial income streams).
that tells us in no uncertain terms that two-thirds of the supposedly upper middle class 30% are only middle class.