While some people consider television families like Claire and Phil Dunphy on Modern Family or Andre and Rainbow Johnson on Black-ish to be middle class, others might disagree.
What does it mean to be middle class? What appears to be middle class to one person might give off the feeling of wealth to another. Pew Research Center defines it this way: “Middle-income Americans are defined as adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, after incomes have been adjusted for household size.”
Where do you fall? Hint: Page 5 says it all. But first, let’s look at some common signs of middle-class status.
1. The American Dream is still alive
Families polled in a 2017 Northwestern Mutual survey who identify as middle class still believe in the American Dream, CBS News reports. Approximately 55% said life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was attainable for all Americans. Of course the closer to upper class you are, the more optimistic you are about achieving the American Dream.
Next: Middle-class people have this opinion about the future.
2. You believe this statement if you are middle class
Respondents in the Northwestern Mutual survey believed the economy was only going to improve from the previous year. “With everything that’s talked about on the political stage, I was expecting the middle class to be not as positive in their financial outlook,” Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning at Northwestern Mutual said to CBS News. “That surprised me that there is a fair level of optimism, even with some of the upheaval the country has had, but surprising in a good way.”
Next: Most middle-class people grew up this way.
3. Your childhood may dictate class
At least seven out of 10 Northwestern Mutual middle-class survey respondents said they grew up middle class. About 44% grew up middle class and 27% grew up in a lower-middle income environment.
Next: Class hopping may be tied to your marital status.
4. Single people don’t feel middle class
Married (and maybe with children) people are more likely to say they are middle class, according to the Northwestern Mutual survey.
Single people are less likely to say they are middle class. “Single Americans tended to feel less financially secure,” Barsch said to CBS News. “They are generally holding up the financial picture themselves.”
Next: Still not sure if you’re really middle class? Check your salary.
5. Middle-class families make this much money
Those making between $50,000 to $75,000 consider themselves to be middle class, according to the Northwestern Mutual survey. “There are people who are in the middle class who would view the person next to them as high net worth,” Barsch, told CBS News. “It’s a huge body of people who self-identify in the middle class.”
In fact, the national range for middle class was anywhere from $42,000 to $125,000 annually for a family of three, according to Pew.
Next: This state is mainly middle class.
6. You might live here if you are middle class
The place where most middle class adults live is Wisconsin, according to Pew. About 67% of the adults living in Wausau, Wisconsin, were middle class, followed by 65% who live in Janesville-Beloit, Wisconsin. The largest share of middle-class adults aren’t in the Midwest alone. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii had 63% of the share.
Next: Class doesn’t always indicate wealth.
7. Upper-class earners don’t always get ahead
Those who fall in the upper-income bracket aren’t necessarily sitting on easy street. Those who are making at least six figures per year struggle too.
One family in suburban Georgia who was making over $180,000 told The Washington Post they didn’t feel wealthy, CNBC reports. Some families living in the same area who make $100,000 were living paycheck to paycheck. Even those who made up to $250,000 didn’t feel wealthy.
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