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What Does 'Middle Class' Mean In America? We Asked, You Answered


Economists say to be considered middle class, a family of three needs to earn about 40,000 to $120,000 a year. We've been exploring what it means to be middle class in America today in our series The New Middle. A few weeks ago, we asked you to define the new middle. And we got answers from all over the country.

GREG: My name is Greg from Oklahoma City, Okla. And to me, the new middle means a full-time job with no cost of living pay raises for over five years.

LISA JOHNSON MITCHELL: My name is Lisa Johnson Mitchell (ph), and I'm from Dallas, Texas. My definition of the new middle is being able to live on cash for the basics like food and gas between paychecks without having to use credit cards.

WADE GRIFFITH: My wife and I wonder how we can ever afford college tuition for our boys with the way the price of college goes up and up and up. We are saving for college, but the amount we can save versus what we're going to need, there's a huge gap there. My name's Wade Griffith (ph), and I'm from Birmingham, Ala.

M K OHAVER: My name is M.K. Ohaver (ph). I'm from Dunbar, W. Va. The new middle is a two-plus-income family with a side hustle.

ANGIE EMORY: My name is Angie Emory (ph), and I'm from Waukesha, Wis. To me, the new middle is being able to afford some luxuries but also having to consider where in your budget you'll borrow the money from in order to afford them.

JENNIFER: My name is Jennifer (ph), and I'm from Cypress, Texas. No soccer, minivans, salons or snacks, no birthdays, vacations, movies or restaurants. Say yes to free lunch, handouts, scavenging, family of five, 50,000.

JASON LEMATRY: My name is Jason Lematry (ph), and I live in Tacoma, Wash. And I think that when your staycation includes going to work on Monday, you might be living in the new middle.

SIEGEL: Thanks to everyone who participated. You can still join our conversation. We are on Twitter, @npratc. Use the hashtag The New Middle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.