What is “middle class” these days?
Most people think it’s them, but most people would probably be wrong if for no other reason than there isn’t one definition of what constitutes the middle class in the country. Some judge it based on income, some by occupation and some by educational attainment. The Motley Fool’s sister company The Ascent asked more than a thousand people how they defined “middle class” and discovered a range of lifestyle standards including the ability to pay bills on time (83.9%), a secure job (80.3%), the ability to save money (63.3%), time and money for vacations (51.2%), and having at least $1,000 in savings (42.8%).
The consensus among sociologists is that Americans’ socio-economic classifications are best understood with five divisions including poor, lower middle class, middle, upper-middle and wealthy. The majority are certainly somewhere along the spectrum of middle class, but there is a wide gulf between a mechanic and college professor in terms of housing, lifestyle and affordable options.
Pew Research pegs middle class as an income for a family of three of between $40,500 and $122,000.