Thursday, January 28, 2010
With Obomba getting ready to launch a new "Middle Class Initative," it would seem the first REASONABLE thing to do before setting out any new policies or expenditures would be to clearly define who and/or what is middle-class. As you will see after reading the article below, the term is ambigious.
What is an Average Middle Class Salary Range?
By Stephanie Chandler
eHow Contributing Writer
What is the middle class, and who defines it? There is no solid description with clear salary ranges that define the middle class, but U.S. agencies and economists do try to put numbers to this seemingly abstract group of people
The Poverty Line
As of 2009, the poverty threshold as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau had not changed since 2006. For a family of four it is $21,203. For a family of three it is $16,530. For a family of two and unrelated individuals it is $13,540 and $10,590 respectively.
U.S. Census Quintiles
The U.S. Census Bureau breaks down the reported household incomes into quintiles (or five divisions). In 2007, the middle quintile reported an income range of $36,000 to $57,660. Many economists and politicians alike believe this range is too narrow to encompass the true middle class of America. Therefore a more generous range would include the middle three quintiles, which makes the range from $19,178 to $91,705. This range accounts for 60% of all households, and with the lower end balancing near the poverty threshold, this range may not be completely accurate.
The 2008 census reported the medium income as $50,233. The Pew Research Center suggests that the middle income range is 75 percent to 150 percent of the median income. This makes the current middle class income range $37,675 to $75,350. To most, this range seems small and surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center find that many who fall outside this range still consider themselves middle class.
Economist Gary Burtless of Brookings Institution indicates that the middle class encompasses from one-half the median income to twice the median income. This makes the middle class income range $25,117 to $100,466.
MIT economist Frank Levy believes that those in the middle class have enough money to afford the basic building blocks of a good life including a house, a car and money to pay necessary bills. He suggests that families in their prime earning years are middle class if they fall between $30,000 and $90,000.
More Than Just Income
Surveys conducted by the PewResearch Center confirm that salary, or income, range is not the only determining factor of what class a person considers him/herself. Four out of 10 Americans with incomes below $20,000 classify themselves as middle class. On the other end, 1/3 of those who enjoy incomes over $150,000 say they are middle class. Being middle class is just as much a feeling of well-being as it is an income label.