Growing numbers of middle-class Americans say they are not.
Results of a survey by the Pew Research Center reflect economic pressures amid growing debt.
The survey paints a mixed picture for the 53 percent of adults in the country who define themselves as middle class. They have household incomes ranging from below 40-thousand to more than 100-thousand dollars.
One in four of those questioned said their economic situation had not improved. Nearly a third said they had fallen backward. Those numbers together are the highest since the survey questions were first asked in 1964.
But most middle-class people were upbeat when asked to measure their progress over a longer timeframe. Two-thirds said their standard of living is better than the one their parents had at the age they are now.
Their level of optimism still lags behind their richer counterparts. Eighty percent of richer people said they exceeded their parents' standard of living.