The Income it Takes to be Middle Class in America’s 50 Largest Cities

The Income it Takes to be Middle Class in America’s 50 Largest Cities

April 3, 2023

Income inequality has been on the rise in the United States for decades. Characterized by the growing ranks of those at the extreme ends of the income spectrum, rising income inequality has, by definition, diminished the all-important American middle class. 

Not only a pillar of stability, a strong middle class is also a key driver of economic growth. Middle class households offer a reliable market for goods and services, their labor is an engine of entrepreneurship and innovation, and their tax dollars help sustain investment in quality public services. 

Though the middle class has long been the economic backbone of the United States, there is no universally accepted definition of what it means to be middle class. Falling between working and upper class households, the middle class generally has some disposable income for luxuries such as vacations and eating at restaurants. Typically, middle class households are able to put money away for savings and retirement, but they cannot afford big-ticket items – such as a house, car, or college education – without taking out a loan. 

These indicators of middle class status are not hard and fast rules, however, and lose their utility when analyzing large populations. Conversely, household income, while perhaps less comprehensive, serves as a quantifiable and more definitive gauge of middle class status. 

Using household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the income it takes to be considered middle class in each of America’s 50 most populous metro areas by looking at the income range of the middle 20% of households – 40% of households earn more than the middle class and 40% earn less. The 50 metropolitan areas on this list are ordered by population, from smallest to largest. All data is for 2021.

It is important to note that many members of the middle class, more broadly defined, may have incomes that fall outside of the ranges presented on this list. Still, most households with incomes within these ranges comprise the core of the middle class in each city. 

Across the cities on this list, exactly how much the typical household earns varies considerably. Poorer cities, including those in the Rust Belt region, tend to have lower incomes overall, a product of the decline of American manufacturing. Meanwhile, in cities along the West Coast with booming tech industries, most households earn well over $100,000 a year. As a result, the annual income necessary to be considered middle class varies considerably from city to city. (Here is a look at the richest cities in America.)

In San Jose, California, home to Silicon Valley, households making between $108,000 and $177,000 per year fall in the middle 20% of households and are considered middle class by this definition. In Cleveland, meanwhile, households that earn between $48,000 and $78,000 annually are considered middle class. (Here is a look at 20 cities where the middle class can no longer afford housing.)

Click here to see the income it takes to be middle class in America’s 50 largest cities.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Source: Read Full Article