Money

19% of Americans are considered 'upper class'—here's how much they earn

Mikee Catacutan | Twenty20

According to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center, 19% of American adults live in "upper-income households." The median income of that group was $187,872 in 2016.

Pew defines the upper class as adults whose annual household income is more than double the national median. That's after incomes have been adjusted for household size, since smaller households require less money to support the same lifestyle as larger ones.

About half of American households, 52%, were considered middle-class, while 29% were lower-class. The median income of middle-class households was $78,442 in 2016. For lower-income households, it was $25,624.

These numbers are in 2016 dollars and scaled to reflect a three-person household.

Pew looked at various household sizes. Here's the minimum amount you'd have to earn each year to be considered upper-class, depending on the size of your family:

Household of one: Minimum of $78,281 to be upper-class
Household of two: Minimum of $110,706 to be upper-class
Household of three: Minimum of $135,586 to be upper-class
Household of four: Minimum of $156,561 to be upper-class
Household of five: Minimum of $175,041 to be upper-class

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How much money you have to make to be upper-class

The share of U.S. adults considered upper-class varies depending on where you live, Pew noted: In affluent metropolitan areas, it's much higher than 19%.

"The metropolitan areas with the largest shares of adults in upper-income households are mostly in the coastal areas of the Northeast and California," Pew reports. "They tend to be in high-tech corridors, such as Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH, or in financial and commercial centers, such as Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT."

The metro with the highest share was San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, where 32% of adults were considered upper-income.

Use Pew's income calculator to find out which group you are in, compared to other adults in your metro and among American adults overall. It also lets you find out which group you're in compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity and marital status.

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