These days, it seems like practically everyone claims to be “middle class.” Over the years, the word has become a catch-all to describe anyone who’s not homeless or filthy rich. But what does the term “middle class” actually mean?
A new calculator from the Pew Research Center can now tell Americans if they are lower, middle, or upper class. These labels aren’t just about how you think of yourself — they’re based on actual numbers.
To use Pew’s calculator, just type in your yearly income before taxes, household size, and metropolitan area. The calculator uses government data from the US Census Bureau to calculate its results.
Factoring in users’ metropolitan area is important. What counts as middle class in a city like New York definitely won’t qualify elsewhere. For example, a family of four who makes $150,000 would be considered middle class in New York City, but upper class in Jacksonville, Florida.
The calculator doesn’t just compare you to others in the same city, though. It also compares you to other Americans overall. You can even compare yourself to people who are similar in age, race/ethnicity, marital status, and level of education.
In 2016, about half of American adults lived in middle-class households, according to Pew’s studies. Meanwhile, 29% lived in lower-income households, while 19% lived in upper-income households. Pew’s new analysis also shows that the American middle class has stopped shrinking for the first time in decades.
Where do you fit in?
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