How do you define “middle class”?
I found an Associated Press story on Page 6B in today’s Gazette intriguing. It detailed various definitions of the “middle class.” Politicians talk about this group all the time, particularly as our presidential election heats up and Washington debates whether to extend tax cuts to the middle class. Democrats, in particular, claim to be great defenders of the middle class.
So just how do you define the middle class, and do you consider yourself part of it?
Today’s story refers to a recent speech by President Obama in which he mentioned the “middle class” 14 times. He defines it as a family earning up to $250,000 a year. Republican challenger Mitt Romney suggests the upper bounds of the middle class include families earning $200,000.
The Census Bureau divides Americans into five income groups and says the middle class is the group in the middle, earning between $38,000 and $61,000. Others put broader parameters on it, including the middle 60 percent of income earners, or those making between $20,000 and $100,000.
I’ve always considered myself in the middle class and still do, though my earnings have slipped in recent years and my wife retired last year. I don’t consider anyone earning up to $250,000 or even $200,000 middle class, though I realize that residents on the coasts might well need to earn that much just to live a life comparable to the one I enjoy here in lower-cost Rock County in America’s Heartland.