Income, debt, everyday American examples


The typical middle-class American earns between about $30,000 and $90,000

According to Pew, a single American earning between $30,000 and about $90,000 each year has a median income. A household of two would need to earn around $42,000 to $127,000 to qualify.

Just over half of Americans surveyed by Northwestern Mutual in 2018 said the range for middle-class affiliation is between $50,000 and $99,999.

“The average middle-class household has an income of about $70,000 after taxes and transfers,” says a Brookings essay. “To be middle class, a household of three would have an income of between $40,000 and $154,000.”

A middle-income three-person household, according to Pew’s definition, earns about $52,000 to $156,000 each year.

A household of four would have to earn $60,000 to $180,000. Households of five earning between approximately $67,000 and $201,000 are also considered part of the middle class.

Household incomes for the middle class have risen over the past decade, though the pandemic has still set them back. As can be seen in the chart above, the median household income for a middle-class household with three dollars in 2020 was $79,838 in 2010, according to Pew’s analysis. By 2019 it had risen to $92,042 – and then fell to $90,131 in 2020.


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