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Will the middle class please stand up?

November 29, 2007

Obama and Clinton
Every politician in the presidential race claimed to be fighting for the middle class, and it seemed a sound strategy — until the Democratic front-runners tried to define who, exactly, was middle class. While Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama couldn’t agree during a recent debate whether someone earning $97,500 or more could be considered middle class, voters have little difficulty judging who isn’t — the presidential candidates themselves.

What do you think is the income range for a middle class family in America today?


$45,000 to $150,000


$75,000-$250,000, depending on where one lives.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

80k – 200k

Posted by NYC, CPA | Report as abusive

Any number given would be arbitrary. Consideration must be made as to the cost of living in a given area. $35k in Boston MA could be considered near poverty level when living expenses are factored in, whereas in Memphis TN it would provide a fairly comfortable living.

Once politicians stop painting their constituants with broad sweeping strokes, they will be able to gleen a semblance of an understanding of them. They will never fully be able to relate.

Posted by Lincoln Waters | Report as abusive

The income range would certainly depend on the area of the country. I would think somewhere between $40,000 to $65,000. The only reason the middle class won’t stand up is that it’s too busy trying to avoid it’s own financial collapse. If the middle class isn’t already buried by stagnant income (or loss of jobs), shrinking home equity, rising prices and exhorbitant health care costs, then it’s being slammed by usurious credit card interest rates at the very time it is depending on credit to survive. Our country is in very, very bad shape.

Posted by Paul McCallister | Report as abusive

A family with at least one child from pre-school to post-graduate age; owns or rents a home valued between $100,000 to $500,000, depending on where they live; household income of at least $50,000 per child and no more than $150,000 per child; may have health care or maybe not; pays taxes; little or no savings; no capital investment; is not single unless having a child; is not retired unless having a child. All others, regardless of income, have different values that are best pursued and probably only achieved through individual pursuit.

Posted by Reuben Ryder | Report as abusive

A family that can afford to buy a home in the real estate market in which they live should be considered middle class. “Afford to buy a home” could be defined as a mortgage payments equal to no more than 30% of monthly gross income for a home valued between the 25th and 75th percentiles of all homes within a given market/geographical area.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

As a 12 year veteran and an electrician of 15 years sitting in a cold house because I can’t afford to pay rent and buy heating fuel middle class is too far up the economic ladder to worry about. There was a time in this country that a tradesman could afford to live a comfortable life, but in today’s economy I am one paycheck away from the soup kitchen. The American dream has become the American nightmare.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

The term “middle class” is only used to place people into a group so that our government’s propaganda can be effective. As most people have noticed, the cost of living varies by location. A comfortable life-style varies from person to person. I would classify very few of our elected representatives as “middle class”.

Posted by John Y. | Report as abusive

We work for a living and if we are notworking we are looking for work. We have standards and values we try to live by, not always in a perfect way, but we try. We have kids, usually only a few, and we let them know what is right and what is wrong and expect them to obey and not blame others for their mistakes. We try to live a good and decent life even though we are surrounded by those who are enabled, empowered and taught they are entiteled, just because. We pay taxes all day long, usually so wealthy contractors can get more wealth and millions of others can get free health insurance. We hear politicians say the same stuff but we know that we really are not represented. We are not the squeaky wheel, we are the frame, and we are bending.

Posted by jim stone | Report as abusive

I agree with the affordable housing analogy. If one can barely afford (~30% of income) to buy a home that is in the median price range of their area, they are just entering the realm of middle class. The same argument could probably be made for rent payments. Debt also plays an important role in determining middle class. I would venture to say that middle class are enabled to receive revolving debt and take that opportunity gladly, preventing them from moving up the wealth ladder. The upper class (or those who are fixed-upper class) do not carry month-to-month revolving debt.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

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