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middle class Households are shown in blue and persons in red. milenioinegi/la jornada

Middle class declines by 6.3 million people due to pandemic, says INEGI

62% of the country is now lower class

The size of Mexico’s middle class shrank by 6.3 million people between 2018 and 2020 due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the national statistics agency INEGI.

The middle class was made up of 53.5 million people in 2018 but the number declined to 47.2 million last year, according to INEGI estimates based on data collected by the National Income and Household Spending Survey (ENIGH). The figures include adult and child members of middle class families.

INEGI’s adjunct director of research Gerardo Leyva told the newspaper El Universal that the reduction in the size of the middle class further entrenches Mexico’s status as a country of predominantly lower class people.

The size of the lower class grew by 8.6 million to 78.5 million in 2020 from 69.9 million in 2018, while the upper class shrank to just over 1 million from 1.8 million two years earlier.

“More than 99% of the population of Mexico is lower class or middle class,” Leyva said.

“The middle class is 37.2% of the population and the lower class is 62%. So Mexico continues to be basically a lower class country,“ he said, adding that the data shows that a claim in a 2010 academic book that Mexico is a predominantly middle class country is incorrect.

“The middle class declined because of the pandemic,” the INEGI official said.

Mexico’s GDP shrank by a whopping 8.5% last year as the pandemic and associated restrictions crippled the economy, and millions of people lost their jobs or earned considerably less.

“… The majority of the population is still concentrated in the lower class and I believe it will take some years of progress to be able to change this situation and make the middle class the majority,” Leyva said.

Based on ENIGH data, INEGI also estimates that 42.2% of households across Mexico are middle class.

The percentage of middle class households is higher than the national average in 13 states, among which Mexico City ranks first.

INEGI estimates that 58.9% of households are middle class in the capital. Ranking second to 13th for the highest proportion of such households are Colima, 54.6%; Jalisco, 53.6%; Baja California, 53.1%; Sonora, 51.9%; Baja California Sur, 51.1%; Querétaro, 50.5%; Sinaloa, 50%; Nayarit, 49.9%; Quintana Roo, 45.7%; Nuevo León, 45.6%; Michoacán, 44.6%; and Chihuahua, 43.3%.

The average income of households considered middle class was 22,297 pesos per month (US $1,080) in 2020, while for lower class and upper class households it was 11,343 pesos (US $550) and 77,975 pesos (US $3,775), respectively.

With reports from El Universal 

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