23 U.S. cities where you can earn $150,000 and still be considered middle class

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For most Americans, a $150,000 annual salary is a lot of money: 80% of U.S. households earn less, according to 2021 Census Bureau data.

A family making that much would be considered above middle class nationally, according to the Pew Research Center's definition of the term: a household earning between two-thirds and double their area's median household income.

Across the entire country, that range is between $47,189 and $141,568, based on Census Bureau income data.

But $150,000 is still a middle-class income by Pew's definition in nearly half of the country's 50 most-populated metropolitan areas, where incomes tend to be high.

Here are 23 metro areas where $150,000 annual income is considered middle class:

Since Pew's middle-class calculation is contingent upon local median income, areas with higher median incomes have higher middle-class income brackets. That's why San Jose, California — the nation's highest-earning metro, according to Census Bureau data — has such a relatively high-earning middle class.

Areas with higher incomes also tend to have higher costs of living. A $1,000 increase in median earnings is associated with a 1% increase in local cost of living, according to research from the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project.

In other words, salary comparisons aren't necessarily apples to apples: $150,000 may go a lot further in Atlanta than in Denver, for example.

It's worth noting that income isn't the only determinant of middle-class status.

Other quantitative factors such as the size of the household, educational attainment and whether a home is rented or owned can impact a household's standing. Cultural signifiers such as being able to go on vacation or volunteer may also factor into a definition of middle class.

Middle class isn't a one-size-fits-all label, and understanding how different middle-class incomes can look may help put your own financial situation in perspective.

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