As U.S. election season reaches a fevered pitch, unemployment rates continue to creep up and average income has decreased.
Meanwhile, a study released by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday shows that Americans have less hope for positive economic change than during any other period since World War II.
Unrest in the electorate reflects results of the study that shows the middle class in America has shrank to the lowest level in many decades, according to a Fox News report.
Middle class in the U.S. is defined as roughly 50 percent of adults with household incomes ranging from $39,000 to $118,000, according to the report.
The Pew study describes mid-tier wage earners as experiencing the "worst decade in modern history," as their earnings went negative for the first time since the late 1940s.
Washington and many economic analysts have insisted the U.S. has been in an economic recovery since shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008. However it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince middle-class Americans, collectively, that they are experiencing economic growth.
While some in Washington may be convinced that things are getting better, not worse, most Americans say they had to cut back spending in the past year. The study also showed that fewer Americans believe that they will be able to move forward economically by working hard. Just as troubling, more say their children's economic future will likely be the same or worse than their own.
In all, 85 percent of middle class Americans say it is more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living. Some 62 percent say a lot of the blame lies with Congress; Democrats, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid have controlled congress since 2007 with the exception of the past 17 months after Republicans won in a landslide 2010 election in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, President Obama was elected in 2008 on a campaign theme of “hope and change” but unemployment has remained high and the economy continues to show substantial and even increased weakness as national elections loom.
"The job market is changing, our living standards are falling in the middle, and middle-income parents are now afraid that their children will be worse off than they are," says Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison economics professor who specializes in income inequality.
The latest census report shows incomes for the rich and all working Americans has dropped, with lower incomes shrinking at a quicker pace.
According to the Fox report, in 1970, the middle class share of U.S. income was 62 percent. Wealthier Americans got 29 percent of earnings. However the share of income received by the middle class in 2010 dropped to 45 percent, tying a low in 2006.
More troubling, the median income for America's middle class has fallen from $72,956 to $69,487 since 2010, showing much of the decline has come in the past few years as U.S. deficit spending has swelled by about $6 trillion, according to the Fox report.
"The notion that the middle class always enjoys a rising standard of living is a big part of America's sense of itself. And in modern times, it's always been true -- until now," said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.
"Middle class Americans still have faith in the future -- their own, their children's, the country's. But their outlook is not as rosy now as it was before the recession began," he added.