This paper introduces a model for generating national estimates and projections of the distribution of the employed across five economic classes for 142 developing countries over the period 1991 to 2017. The national estimates are used to produce aggregate estimates of employment by economic class for eight developing regions and for the developing world as a whole. We estimate that 41.6 per cent of the developing world’s workers were middle class and above in 2011, more than double the share in 1991. Yet, regional figures show that widespread poverty and vulnerability to poverty persists in many developing regions. Further growth in the developing world’s middle class, which both reflects and supports broader economic development, will require increased productivity levels and an expansion in the number of quality jobs.