Updated QoD: How much do you need to earn to be considered middle class?

Dec 17, 2019
Question of the Day, Budgeting, Research

Answer: Between $41,498 to $123,874

Note: Pew Research methodology assumes middle class = 67% to 200% of median household income

Click on the map below to see what your state's median income details are:


  • Why do you think these figures vary so much state by state?
  • Can you suggest other ways to measure the middle class other than by income?
  • Do you think the size of the middle class has changed over time? Why or why not?
  • Do you think that people earning the same income can have very different lifestyles? Explain.

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (Census Bureau)

Median household income for the nation has been increasing every year since 2013, but the year-to-year increase from 2017 is smaller than the prior three years. Previously, increases ranged between 1.8% and 3.3% annually. This was the second consecutive year that U.S. median household income was higher than 2005, when the ACS was fully implemented.

Median household income in 2018 was higher than 2005 median household income for 31 states and the District of Columbia and lower in five states and Puerto Rico. In 14 states, differences were not statistically significant.


Looking for more Questions of the Day? Here's our library of over 300 QoD! 


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.