What does it take to be middle class? A new study says that roughly $82,000 a year in household income in San Francisco, $74,000 in Seattle and $60,000 in Washington, D.C., but only $24,000 in Cleveland.
Researchers at SmartAsset, a consumer finance website, tabulated the low and high end of… middle class salaries In 100 large cities and in every state.
The analysis adopts the Pew Research Center’s definition of the middle class: Americans whose income is two-thirds to twice the median household income. (The Pew Center also offers a neat “Are you middle-class American?” income calculator.)
By applying a Pew multiplier to city and state medians, the SmartAsset report reveals the income spread that defines what it means to be middle class in different parts of the United States.
“The middle class in America has many different faces,” said Jacqueline Dijon, managing editor of economic analysis at SmartAsset. “You could make $24,000 in Cleveland or $310,000 in Fremont and still be considered middle class.”
Not surprisingly, median incomes skew upward in some of the affluent West Coast cities and in the mega-wealthy suburbs.
Fremont, California, a city of 230,000 in Silicon Valley, boasts the richest middle class of any large jurisdiction in America. The median household income is $155,968, which means that the income of the middle class ranges from $104,499 to $311,936.
Cleveland has the least prosperous middle class in the country, with incomes ranging from $23,827 to $71,124. A Cleveland family with an income of $100,000 would feel relatively wealthy.
The SmartAssist researchers said the analysis could be useful to anyone who lives in a big city or is considering moving to one, because it provides a measure of how far in a salary one might go and how relatively prosperous one might feel.
“The idea here was to give people a realistic yardstick to compare themselves to,” Dijon said. “There is a different financial reality for every city in America.”
The new report does not attempt to measure the size and shape of America’s full middle class. according to 2022 Pew Analysisthe share of American adults inhabiting the middle class has shrunk from 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2021. Ours is a nation of increasing income inequality.
Pew relies on the same equation used in the Smart Assessment report, which defines the middle class as those with incomes between two-thirds and two times the national median income. This works out to a national salary range of $52,000 to $156,000 in 2020 for a family of three.
Countries average household income It was $70,784 in 2021, according to the census.
The SmartAsset report identified six cities where this amount is not considered middle class: Fremont, mentioned above; San Jose, California, with a minimum middle-class income of $84,673; Arlington, a D.C. suburb, with a middle-class minimum of $84,186; San Francisco, at $81,623; Seattle, $74,223; and Irvine, in Orange County, California, at $70,869.
Some of the largest cities in the country rank among the lowest in median income, which means it doesn’t take a lot of currency to qualify for the middle class.
In Cincinnati, by Pew’s definition, a household earning $28,631 annually would be classified as middle class. In Milwaukee, the middle class starts at $31,247 per year. The middle class income threshold is $32,689 in Miami, $33,477 in St. Louis, $35,442 in Philadelphia, $36,617 in Baltimore and $37,184 in Houston.
Los Angeles ranks 37th among large cities for middle-class incomes, with prices ranging from $47,149 to $140,744.
New York ranks 45th, with middle-class income ranging from $45,558 to $135,994. (These numbers are for the city as a whole, not Manhattan alone.)
At the state level, the report found that middle-class incomes are about 20 percent higher in the Northeast than in the South.
In Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., a family would have to earn more than $60,000 to become middle-class.
Mississippi has the lowest middle class salary, $32,640, followed by West Virginia ($34,336), Louisiana ($34,898) and Arkansas ($35,194).
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