How Much You Have to Earn to Be Considered Middle Class in Every US State

“Pew defined middle class households as those earning 67%-200% of a state’s median income.”

A recent analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog found that the middle class shrunk in every state in the U.S. between the years of 2000 and 2013–the most recent data available.  This article by Libby Kane and Andy Kiersz also provides a detailed table that displays the median income and middle class incomes for each of the 50 states.  Finally, the information in this article points out that the definition of middle class often depends on where you live.  For example, you can feel middle class even if you earn$250,000 a year in some areas of the country which is about five times the $52,250 median income for the entire United States.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss what it means to be middle class in the United States.
  • Stress how income relates to financial planning, investing, and the time value of money.

Discussion Questions

  1. While the median income for the United States is $52,250, the median income and the middle class incomes for each state vary. What factors account for the difference in these income amounts from one state to the next?
  2. Assume you are offered a new position within your company that will pay $6,000 more than your current annual salary. If you take the new position, you will have more responsibility and it will require that you work longer hours and travel away from home and family on a regular basis.  Do you feel the extra money is worth the changes that will be required if you take the new position?
  3. If you decide to take the new higher-paying position, what would you do with the extra money?

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