BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana's middle class is shrinking as income disparity grows between the upper and lower classes.

The Billings Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1DFo1Sb ) the percentage of state residents with middle-class incomes fell from 51.3 percent in 2000 to 46.6 percent in 2013.

Montana's median household income in 2013 was $46,972.

A report by The Pew Charitable Trusts says the decline in Montana's middle-class incomes was higher than in Wyoming and Idaho where the percentage of households earning 67 to 200 percent of their state's median income was nearly flat.

Montana Department of Labor chief economist Barbara Wagner says the increase in income inequality in the United States has been well documented and that creating an educated workforce is part of the solution.