Santa Barbara wasn’t included in a new national survey of the shrinking middle class by the Pew Research Center, but Santa Maria was, and from 2000-2014, its middle class shrank by nearly 5 percent while the percentage of lower-income individuals grew by nearly 4 percent. Those defined as upper income grew by one percent. In San Luis Obispo, the middle-income bracket held pretty steady, dropping by less than a percent, while the low-income percentage fell by 2 percent and the upper income increased by the same.


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