Middle class can mean different things to different people. You can think of middle class as a certain lifestyle, a state of mind, or a strict measurement of wealth. And how you define middle class determines who falls into it.

Using annual incomes and the cost of living around the country as barometers, the experts at the Pew Research Center have concluded that 52% of Americans qualify as middle class—but that portion can vary widely depending where you live. 

According to a Pew study released last fall, the median income of middle-class American households is $74,015, based on Census data from 2016, the latest available. (Pew defines middle class as two-thirds to twice the the U.S. median household income, adjusted for household size.)

As you can see in the map below, that benchmark income tops $84,000 in Rhode Island and Maryland and approaches $75,000 in Florida.

So where do all these middle-class folks live? Pew drilled down by community as well, and found that the 10 highest concentrations of middle-class Americans reside in the Midwest and Northeast. In Sheboygan, Wisc., the middle class makes up about 65% of the population. In Laredo, Texas, on the other hand, only 39% percent of residents qualify. 

What’s typically middle class

The median middle-class income by state

Notes: In 2016 dollars, reflects three-person household, and adjusted for cost of living in the states. Source: Pew Research Center analysis of 2016 American Community Survey (IPUMS)

That roughly half of American households fall into the middle class is similar to what Pew found in 2011, the last time they did this analysis. But over time the middle class has been shrinking: In 1971, 61% of adults lived in middle-class households. 

And during that time both upper and lower-income segments of the population have been growing at the expense of the middle class. Plus, the top group has seen bigger income gains, widening the income gap.

Of course, the median income tells you only so much. You also may wonder how much you have to earn to qualify as middle class in the first place. In the table below, you’ll find the minimum and maximum incomes for middle class households by size of your family, from a singer person to a family of four. 

The amounts vary because Pew adjusts the data to reflect the cost of living around the country. So, for example, in an area where livings cost are lower, you’ll need a lower income to enter the middle class.

Keep in mind the this is based on 2016 income, but since inflation has been modest in recent years the exact number probably won’t have changed much. 

Finally, if you want to check out whether you qualify as middle class in your hometown, Pew’s income calculator will let you drill down by metropolitan area.

Range of household incomes needed to be considered middle class, by family size

StateSingle CoupleFamily of four
U.S. average$26,093 – $78,280$36,902 – $110,705$52,187 – $156,560
Alabama$22,597 – $67,791$31,957 – $95,870$45,194 – $135,581
Alaska$27,502 – $82,507$38,894 – $116,683$55,005 – $165,015
Arizona$25,024 – $75,071$35,389 – $106,166$50,047 – $150,141
Arkansas$22,675 – $68,025$32,067 – $96,202$45,350 – $136,051
California$29,851 – $89,552$42,215 – $126,646$59,702 – $179,105
Colorado$26,876 – $80,629$38,009 – $114,026$53,752 – $161,257
Connecticut$28,364 – $85,091$40,112 – $120,336$56,727 – $170,181
Delaware$26,146 – $78,437$36,975 – $110,926$52,291 – $156,873
District of Columbia$30,242 – $90,727$42,769 – $128,307$60,484 – $181,453
Florida$26,015 – $78,045$36,791 – $110,373$52,030 – $156,091
Georgia$24,032 – $72,096$33,986 – $101,959$48,064 – $144,192
Hawaii$30,895 – $92,684$43,692 – $131,075$61,789 – $185,367
Idaho$24,267 – $72,801$34,318 – $102,955$48,534 – $145,601
Illinois$25,806 – $77,419$36,496 – $109,487$51,613 – $154,838
Indiana$23,562 – $70,687$33,322 – $99,966$47,125 – $141,374
Iowa$23,536 – $70,609$33,285 – $99,856$47,072 – $141,217
Kansas$23,615 – $70,844$33,396 – $100,188$47,229 – $141,687
Kentucky$22,910 – $68,730$32,400 – $97,199$45,820 – $137,460
Louisiana$23,588 – $70,765$33,359 – $100,077$47,177 – $141,530
Maine$25,676 – $77,028$36,311 – $108,934$51,352 – $154,055
Maryland$28,572 – $85,717$40,407 – $121,222$57,144 – $171,433
Massachusetts$28,129 – $84,386$39,780 – $119,340$56,257 – $168,772
Michigan$24,345 – $73,035$34,429 – $103,288$48,690 – $146,071
Minnesota$25,441 – $76,323$35,979 – $107,937$50,882 – $152,646
Mississippi$22,545 – $67,634$31,883 – $95,649$45,089 – $135,268
Missouri$23,354 – $70,061$33,027 – $99,081$46,707 – $140,121
Montana$24,554 – $73,662$34,724 – $104,173$49,108 – $147,323
Nebraska$23,615 – $70,844$33,396 – $100,188$47,229 – $141,687
Nevada$25,415 – $76,245$35,942 – $107,827$50,830 – $152,490
New Hampshire$27,633 – $82,899$39,079 – $117,236$55,266 – $165,797
New Jersey$29,538 – $88,613$41,773 – $125,318$59,075 – $177,226
New Mexico$24,423 – $73,270$34,540 – $103,620$48,847 – $146,540
New York$30,164 – $90,492$42,658 – $127,975$60,328 – $180,984
North Carolina$23,719 – $71,157$33,544 – $100,631$47,438 – $142,313
North Dakota$23,875 – $71,626$33,765 – $101,295$47,751 – $143,253
Ohio$23,301 – $69,904$32,953 – $98,859$46,603 – $139,808
Oklahoma$23,223 – $69,669$32,842 – $98,527$46,446 – $139,339
Oregon$26,041 – $78,124$36,828 – $110,483$52,082 – $156,247
Pennsylvania$25,676 – $77,028$36,311 – $108,934$51,352 – $154,055
Rhode Island$25,989 – $77,967$36,754 – $110,262$51,978 – $155,934
South Carolina$23,562 – $70,687$33,322 – $99,966$47,125 – $141,374
South Dakota$23,040 – $69,121$32,584 – $97,752$46,081 – $138,243
Tennessee$23,536 – $70,609$33,285 – $99,856$47,072 – $141,217
Texas$25,284 – $75,853$35,758 – $107,273$50,569 – $151,707
Utah$25,389 – $76,167$35,905 – $107,716$50,778 – $152,333
Vermont$26,511 – $79,533$37,492 – $112,476$53,022 – $159,065
Virginia$26,694 – $80,081$37,750 – $113,251$53,387 – $160,161
Washington$27,529 – $82,586$38,931 – $116,794$55,057 – $165,171
West Virginia$22,858 – $68,573$32,326 – $96,977$45,716 – $137,147
Wisconsin$24,215 – $72,644$34,245 – $102,734$48,429 – $145,288
Wyoming$25,232 – $75,697$35,684 – $107,052$50,465 – $151,394

Notes: Range of household income needed to qualify for middle-income status, by family size, in 2016 dollars. Source: Pew Research Center analysis of 2016 American Community Survey (IPUMS)

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