New Chart Lists Middle Class Income in Each State

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How much money do you need to be middle class? According to new research from Pew Research Center and a chart put together by Business Insider, you need a minimum income of:

—$30,691 in Florida

—$38,246 in New York

—$46,777 in New Jersey (so much for the idea that it’s cheaper to live in Jersey)

—$48,158 in Alaska

And so on. The state with the lowest minimum middle class income is Mississippi, at $25,309; the state with the highest minimum middle class income is Maryland, at $48,322.

According to my 2014 earnings, I would be middle class in 43 states, and I should stay away from Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, DC, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Alaska is really surprising me here, because I’ve heard that a lot of people in Alaska are getting by on low incomes. If the definition of middle class, according to Business Insider/Pew, is households “earning 67%-200% of a state’s median income,” there must be  a lot of wealthy people in Alaska.

While we’re on the subject of wealthy, Business Insider also lists the middle class’s upper income bound for each state. Make more than this, and you don’t get to run your political campaign on the idea that you are middle class! Here are a few examples:

—$92,072 in Florida

—$114,738 in New York

—$140,330 in New Jersey

—$114,474 in Alaska

Those numbers seem low to me, and if I’m honest I’ll admit that the lower bound numbers seem pretty low to me too. There’s no asterisk noting whether these income levels represent a single person, a family of four, or just any group of people that designate a “household;” but supporting yourself, with or without a family, on $30-40K involves a bit of budgeting and planning.

I’m reminded of that viral graphic about how there’s no state in America where a minimum wage will allow you to rent a two-bedroom apartment, and I’m curious how many of these middle class households can afford a two-bedroom. USA Today reported last year that a DC resident would need to earn $28.25 an hour, or $58,760 a year, to afford a two-bedroom. Middle class households earning DC’s minimum $45,048 are likely to find themselves in less desirable housing.

But Business Insider and Pew aren’t suggesting that a middle class income means you can afford a comfortable life, or a life free from financial worry, or even a decent apartment. In this report, “middle class” just desginates that you are earning a certain percentage of the state’s median income.

I guess being middle class doesn’t mean what it used to.

Photo credit: Tom



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