Experts say a record number of dollars from blue-collar and middle-income households rose into the upper class last year.

WASHINGTON—Citing “nearly unlimited” opportunities for the nation’s currency, an encouraging study released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution found that it has never been easier for U.S. dollars to enter the richest segment of American society.

The study, which followed the legal tender over a 40-year period, confirmed that trillions of dollars have been able to move from the lower and middle classes into the upper class, indicating a significant rise in the upward mobility of American money.

“In comparison to earlier generations, today’s U.S. dollars are ascending the economic ladder much faster, and in far greater numbers,” said economist and lead researcher Hannah Rodrigues, emphasizing that it is much easier for money to escape the ranks of the poor now than it was just 10 years ago. “We have never seen this much money moving into the highest income brackets, and the trend is only getting stronger.”

“These dollars are leaving the working class behind, and they’re not going back,” Rodrigues added.

According to the report, the percentage of American dollars joining the upper echelons of the wealthy has been increasing steadily since the 1970s, and is currently higher than at any time since the Great Depression. Sixty years ago, by contrast, far more money tended to stay in the middle class, to the extent that such a status was assumed to be almost permanent.


Today, the study found, it is reportedly common for money that has spent many decades stuck in the middle to advance to a higher socioeconomic bracket. What’s more, these dollars reaching the highest rungs of the economy are also enjoying an extraordinary level of stability, rarely leaving the upper class once they arrive there.

Rodrigues told reporters that on the rare occasion when money does slip back down into a tier of lower-wage earners, it always makes its way back up very quickly.

“Our report discovered many instances in which an American dollar started out in a poor neighborhood and ended up in an exclusive, affluent community only a few months later,” she said. “For a dollar that started out among the poorest of the poor, reaching the top 1 percent is now an entirely achievable goal.”


“In fact, it happens all the time here,” Rodrigues continued. “Most other developed nations don’t even compare. The United States is far and away the best place on earth for money to make its way to the top.”