In 2013, the working class—made up of those with less than a bachelor’s degree—constituted nearly two-thirds (66.1 percent) of the civilian labor force4 between ages 18 and 64.
Based on long-term labor force projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and continuation of trends in college completion among different demographic groups, the working class is projected to become majority people of color in 2032. This is 11 years sooner than the Census Bureau projection for the entire population and seven years sooner than the transition for all working-age adults (18 to 64 years old).
The prime-age working-class cohort, which includes working people between the ages of 25 and 54, is projected to be majority people of color in 2029.
The age cohort projected to make the earliest transition to majority-minority is the one that includes workers age 25 to 34. These are today’s 18- to 27-year-olds and for them, the projected transition year is 2021.
Wage stagnation is a universal problem for the working class, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. This is an area of immense common ground, because in order to deal with class inequality (a cause of wage stagnation), we have to deal with racial disparities. At the same time, reducing racial inequality means also addressing class inequality.
As the United States continues to undergo this demographic shift, we have to think in terms of big structural and policy changes that help to advance greater equality, expand opportunity for all, and yield universal benefits to the economy. This includes empowering workers to secure gainful employment, bargain for higher wages, and achieve racial and gender pay equity; closing gaps in student achievement and access to college; protecting voting rights; and enacting immigration and criminal justice reform.