Blog of Obscurity

A Very Munchkinly Blog

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Economic Income Reference (i.e. What's the Middle Class?)

Just to follow-up on an offline discussion I was having yesterday with Shrieking Geek, here's a couple of income tables showing the national/state breakouts, median income, and quintiles through 2003:

Median Incomes

Quintile Breakdown

What we were discussing was how people move from one class to the other. Being part of the IT bubble, we went from lower-middle class, to upper class to upper-middle class in the last 10-15 years. That brought up the question of what's "upper class". From a perception standpoint, people don't generally consider themselves upper class until they are independently wealthy. The Kennedys, Waltons, etc. who have such a vast fortune they don't have to work, they just choose to. That's why a lot of people who have a 6000+ square foot home and two luxury car payments still call themselves "middle class".

Here's a Wikipedia post with some economic data:

The middle class of the United States
While 95 percent of Americans identify themselves as middle-class, using the measures of sociology the reality seems different: Some of these individuals are (in those terms) lower or upper class. The expansion of the phrase in the United States appears to have been predicated in the 1970s by the decline of labor unions, the entrance of formerly domestic women into the public adult work force, and the naming and blaming of the underclass in the slums.
Around 1980, when asked what level of personal income would qualify as middle-class, George H. W. Bush replied: $50,000. In fact, only 5 percent of the U.S. population was making that level of income at the time.
Though net worth usually determines social class, incomes between $20,000 and $75,000 are generally considered middle class. Most economists define "middle class" citizens as those with net worths of between $25,000 (low-middle class) to $250,000. Those with net worths between $250,000 and $500,000 typically are categorized as upper-middle-class.