These numbers surprised me as middle class goes to a much higher level than I’d expected.
Pew defines the middle class as adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median. That’s after incomes have been adjusted for household size, since smaller households require less money to support the same lifestyle as larger ones.
About one-fifth of American households, 19%, are considered upper class, while 29% are lower class. The median income of upper class households was $187,872 in 2016. For lower income households, it was $25,624.
These numbers are in 2016 dollars and scaled to reflect a three-person household.
Pew looked at various household sizes. Here’s the income range you’d have to earn each year to be considered middle class, depending on the size of your family:
- Household of one: $26,093 to $78,281
- Household of two: $36,902 to $110,706
- Household of three: $45,195 to $135,586
- Household of four: $52,187 to $156,561
- Household of five: $58,347 to $175,041
The share of U.S. adults considered middle class varies depending on where you live, Pew notes: “The 10 areas with the highest concentrations of middle class adults are located in the Midwest or the Northeast, with the exception of Ogden-Clearfield, Utah. These areas are also more reliant on manufacturing than the nation overall.”
The metro with the highest share is Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where 65% of adults are considered middle class.
Use Pew’s income calculator to find out which group you are in, compared to other adults in your metro and among American adults overall. It also lets you find out which group you’re in compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity and marital status.