Definition of squeezed middle

The "squeezed middle" is that section of society deemed to be most affected by inflation and tax rises because they are in jobs that deliver low to middle incomes which have not been rising as fast as their expenses (or, in some cases, not rising at all). In the years of austerity following the financial crisis, politicians in all developed countries were keen to declare their support for the squeezed middle because of their perceived moral high ground – as opposed to those on high incomes and the unemployed. In reality, despite their declared support for the squeezed middle, politicians in power, in deciding to pursue austerity measures, effectively squeezed this section of society more. The term is, however, notoriously ill-defined in respect of exactly where the middle begins and ends, a fact that has caused further argument among politicians.


squeezed middle in the news

In January 2012 the Resolution Foundation, a UK think-tank that focuses on the squeezed middle, forecast that the squeezed middle would remain an important political battleground because real incomes were being squeezed even further by government austerity moves. In October 2012 the group brought together the Commission on Living Standards. It warned that without urgent action, by 2020 these low to middle earners – a pivotal group of swing voters for all parties – would have seen their incomes reduce further. In February 2013, shadow UK prime minister Ed Miliband delivered a speech outlining measures that he would introduce if elected that would redistribute cash to the "squeezed middle". 


See FT Explainer: the jinxed generation

The jinxed generation - FT Explainer