WASHINGTON — More Americans — including growing numbers of young people and whites — see themselves as members of the lower classes, according to a study released Monday.
At 32 percent, about a third of adults consider themselves part of society’s disadvantaged sectors, up from a quarter four years ago, according to a national survey carried out by the Pew Research Center.
Thirty-nine percent of young adults aged between 18 and 29 say they are on the lower rungs of the social ladder, an increase of 14 points over 2008.
While four years ago 23 percent of whites saw themselves as lower class, this year’s figure stands at 31 percent. Hispanics saw a 10-point increase, from 30 percent to 40 percent.
In contrast, the number of blacks who identify as lower class stayed unchanged at 33 percent.
With fewer than 60 days to go before Americans head to the polls, more Democrats than Republicans position themselves in the lower classes, but with Republicans seeing a larger increase than their rivals across the aisle.
Thirty-three percent of Democrats meanwhile now see themselves as lower class, up from 29 percent in 2008.
Times have been particularly tough on the lower class, with eight in 10 adults — or 84 percent — saying they had to cut back on spending in the past year due to financial shortfalls.
That figure compares to 62 percent of those who say they are part of the middle class and 41 percent who consider themselves as upper class.
But that’s not all.
“Those in the lower classes also say they are less happy and less healthy, and the stress they report experiencing is more than other adults,” the survey said.
About three-quarters, or 77 percent, say it is harder to get ahead now than it was a decade ago.
Blacks and Hispanics are more optimistic about the future of their children than whites, 42 percent of whom think their children’s standard of living will be worse than their own.
The findings are based on telephone interviews with 2,508 adults between July 16 and 26.