The new middle class is of a much higher social status than the old middle class. Think about the everyday value of many things in middle class homes today. Things like: Television sets, computers, cellphones, cars, etc. While many middle class Americans do not see themselves as having a lot, they do actually own much more than those who lived before the industrial age. Many middle-class American families today for example, do not have every member working to make a living whereas middle class Americans then all worked and what distinguished them from the lower class was the jobs that they had (today two people can have the same job and be in different social positions because of inherited wealth whereas then the middle class would not stoop to do a lower class job because it wasn't socially acceptable [note:the upper class today mostly maintains this rule] ). Also the middle class back in the day had different attire from the lower class, whereas modern day middle class americans mostly can not be distinguished from the lower class. Modern day America has a giant gap between the financial wealth of middle class and upper class as to where middle and lower are grouped together but post modern America had 3 separate classes that were more distinct. Hope this helps!
I <3 history.