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A middle-class American brick home in Kentucky. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Last month marked a global tipping point. For the first time in the 10,000 years of human civilization, more than half the world's population — some 3.8 billion people — are middle class, according to a report by the Brookings Institution.

Why it matters: Since the agricultural age led humans to organize into society, we have struggled. Through the early 19th century, civilization as a whole was essentially hand to mouth. Beginning with the Industrial Age, though, living standards began to improve. As of now, the number of poor people is down to 630 million people — 8% of the world population, say Brookings' Homi Kharas and Kristofer Hamel.

  • "About the same number of people are living in households that are poor or vulnerable to poverty."
  • "For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty."
  • 1 person every second escapes extreme poverty
  • 5 people every second enter the middle class
  • 1 person every 2 seconds becomes rich

How they calculated: Kharas and Hamel's basic definition of middle class is the availability of discretionary income — whether people have money above and beyond their absolute necessities.

Reality check: Half the global population is still poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty, Hamel and Kharas say.

Go deeper

7 mins ago - Health

Treasury begins dispersing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.

34 mins ago - World

Jerusalem crisis: Hamas fires rockets, Israel begins military campaign

Palestinian protesters and an Israeli police officer near the Damascus Gate. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Days of tensions in Jerusalem escalated into an exchange of fire on Monday, as Hamas fired dozens of rockets toward Israel and the Israeli military responded with strikes of its own and said it was preparing for a military operation that could last several days.

Why it matters: This is the first time Hamas has fired rockets at Jerusalem since 2014, and the most serious escalation between the Israelis and Palestinians in many months. It comes during the most sensitive days on the calendar — the last days of Ramadan and the Jerusalem Day commemoration on Monday — and amid political crises in both countries.