Inequality in the U.S. is setting records. In a 2018 report, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that "the wealth gaps between upper-income families and lower- and middle-income families in 2016 were at the highest levels recorded."
While upper-class families have "more than recovered from the losses experienced during the Great Recession," Pew notes, "the wealth of lower- and middle-income families in 2016 was comparable to 1989 levels. Thus, even as the American middle class appears not to be shrinking (for now), it continues to fall further behind upper-income households financially."
Here's the breakdown of how much money you or your household have to earn each year to be considered upper-class, depending on the size of your family:
Household of one: Minimum of $78,281
Household of two: Minimum of $110,706
Household of three: Minimum of $135,586
Household of four: Minimum of $156,561
Household of five: Minimum of $175,041
Pew defines the upper class as adults whose annual household income is more than double the national median, which was $57,617 in 2016. That's after incomes have been adjusted for household size, since smaller households require less money to support the same lifestyle as larger ones.
Of course, there's more to class than income: Class can also encompass net worth, education, background and occupation, for example, as well as other factors. For these purposes, however, Pew refers to income and class interchangeably.
What it takes to be upper-class also depends on where you live. For a more accurate reflection of which group you're in, use Pew's income calculator, which adjusts for the cost of living in your area, as well as the number of people in your household.
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