In the last 50 years, the middle class in the U.S. has been on a decline, dropping from 61% of households in 1971 to an estimated 50% today. The definition of ‘middle class’ by Pew Research includes households with incomes from two-thirds to double the national median for the same household size. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in 2022 stood at $74,580.
However, what qualifies as middle class varies significantly across cities due to differences in the cost of living. CNBC’s analysis of 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data sheds light on the diverse income requirements for middle-class status in major metro areas.
Here’s a breakdown of some cities and the income ranges that classify a household as middle class:
|Metro Area||Income Range for Middle Class|
|New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania||$56,000 to $169,000|
|Los Angeles, California||$55,000 to $165,000|
|Chicago, Illinois||$52,000 to $156,000|
|Dallas, Texas||$51,000 to $152,000|
|Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia||$74,000 to $221,000|
|Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||$53,000 to $160,000|
|Miami, Florida||$43,000 to $128,000|
|Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire||$67,000 to $202,000|
|San Francisco, California||$77,000 to $232,000|
|Seattle, Washington||$68,000 to $203,000|
|Minneapolis, Minnesota||$58,000 to $175,000|
|San Diego, California||$61,000 to $182,000|
|Denver, Colorado||$60,000 to $181,000|
|Baltimore, Maryland||$58,000 to $173,000|
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Some interesting facts from Pew Research include the finding that more than one-third of Americans over 65 fall into lower-income households, and multi-earner or married households find it easier to maintain middle-class status compared to single adults.
Factors such as soaring medical costs, high debt loads, family resources, and education expenses can challenge the feeling of financial security even for middle-class households. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, creating a solid financial plan is a crucial step toward a stable future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What defines ‘middle class’ income in the United States?
Middle class income falls between two-thirds to double the national median income for households of the same size.
Has the percentage of middle class households changed over the years?
Yes, it has declined from 61% in 1971 to around 50% today.
Why does the income requirement for middle class status vary across cities?
Differences in the cost of living lead to varying income requirements for middle-class status in different cities.
What is the median household income in the U.S. as of 2022?
The median household income in 2022 was $74,580.
How do married households compare to single adults in maintaining middle-class status?
Married households find it easier to maintain middle-class status compared to single adults.
What are some factors that can challenge the feeling of financial security for middle-class households?
Factors like high medical costs, debt loads, family resources, and education expenses can challenge financial security.
Is there a universal solution for middle-class households facing financial challenges?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but creating a solid financial plan is crucial for stability.