Silicon Valley is so expensive that people who make $400,000 think they're middle-class — here's what the middle class actually is in the 25 largest US cities

Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Haute LivingHere’s what the middle class is in the largest US cities.
  • The Pew Research Center defines the US middle class as those earning 67% to 200% of the median household income.
  • Middle-class Americans earned about $US40,425 to $US120,672 in 2016, according to Pew’s definition, but middle-class incomes vary at the state and city levels.
  • Some Silicon Valley residents earning $US400,000 consider themselves to be in the middle class, a survey found.

Some residents of Silicon Valley self-identify as being in the middle class, even though their salaries dwarf those of many Americans.

The Pew Research Center defines the US middle class as those earning two-thirds to twice the median household income, which was $US60,336 in 2017, meaning middle-class Americans were earning about $US40,425 to $US120,672.

But that number shifts as its broken down by state and even by city.

The Palo Alto Weekly, a local paper in Palo Alto, California, asked residents to report their household income and perceived social class. Out of more than 250 respondents, 81 with incomes between $US10,000 to $US399,999 said they were “middle class.”

Middle class” is a term used broadly – and often incorrectly – even though it can be quantified with US government data. And while the US middle class has been shrinking for decades, most Americans still consider themselves part of it. Many of the high-earning Palo Alto residents noted the high cost of living was one of the reasons they identified as being in the middle class.

But whether you’re in the “middle class” varies depending on where you live.

To get a sense of what it looks like in 25 US cities, Business Insider pulled census data from the 2017 American Community Survey for the largest metropolitan statistical areas. For clarity, we listed the largest city in the MSA (some include more than one).

Below, find out how much income you have to earn to be considered in the middle class in 25 metro areas.

This is an updated article originally reported by Abby Jackson.


Tampa, Florida: up to $US104,424

Middle-class range: $US34,808 to $US104,424

• Median income: $US52,212

• Metro-area population: 3 million


Miami, Florida: up to $US108,568

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Middle-class range: $US36,189 to $US108,568

• Median income: $US54,284

• Metro-area population: 6.1 million


Orlando, Florida: up to $US110,178

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Middle-class range: $US36,726 to $US110,178

• Median income: $US55,089

• Metro-area population: 2.5 million


San Antonio, Texas: up to $US113,548

f11photo/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US37,849 to $US113,548

• Median income: $US56,774

• Metro-area population: 2.4 million


Detroit, Michigan: up to $US116,822

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Middle-class range: $US38,941 to $US116,822

• Median income: $US58,411

• Metro-area population: 4.3 million


Charlotte, North Carolina: up to $US122,312

Middle-class range: $US40,771to $US122,312

• Median income: $US61,156

• Metro-area population: 2.5 million


Phoenix, Arizona: up to $US123,012

Gregory E. Clifford/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US41,004 to $US123,012

• Median income: $US61,506

• Metro-area population: 4.7 million


St. Louis, Missouri: up to $US123,142

J Byard/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US41,047 to $US123,142

• Median income: $US61,571

• Metro-area population: 2.8 million


Riverside, California: up to $US123,988

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US41,329 to $US123,988

• Median income: $US61,994

• Metro-area population: 4.5 million


Houston, Texas: up to $US127,604

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US42,535 to $US127,604

• Median income: $US63,802

• Metro-area population: 6.8 million


Atlanta, Georgia: up to $US130,762

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US43,587 to $US130,762

• Median income: $US65,381

• Metro-area population: 5.8 million


Dallas, Texas: up to $US134,764

f11photo/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US44,921 to $US134,764

• Median income: $US67,382

• Metro-area population: 7.4 million


Chicago, Illinois: up to $US136,806

Helen Sessions/Alamy

Middle-class range: $US45,602 to $US136,806

• Median income: $US68,403

• Metro-area population: 9.5 million


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: up to $US137,144

Middle-class range: $US45,715 to $US137,144

• Median income: $US68,572

• Metro-area population: 6.1 million


Los Angeles, California: up to $US139,984

Melpomene/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US46,661 to $US139,984

• Median income: $US69,992

• Metro-area population: 13.3 million


Portland, Oregon: up to $US143,862

iStock/csfotoimages

Middle-class range: $US47,954 to $US143,862

• Median income: $US71,931

• Metro-area population: 2.4 million


New York City: up to $US150,736

Middle-class range: $US50,245 to $US150,736

• Median income: $US75,368

• Metro-area population: 20.3 million


San Diego, California: up to $US152,414

Middle-class range: $US50,805 to $US152,414

• Median income: $US76,207

• Metro-area population: 3.3 million


Denver, Colorado: up to $US153,286

Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US51,095 to $US153,286

• Median income: $US76,643

• Metro-area population: 2.9 million


Minneapolis, Minnesota: up to $US153,712

Middle-class range: $US51,237 to $US153,712

• Median income: $US76,856

• Metro-area population: 3.6 million


Baltimore, Maryland: up to $US154,788

Middle-class range: $US51,596 to $US154,788

• Median income: $US77,394

• Metro-area population: 2.8 million


Seattle, Washington: up to $US164,266

Middle-class range: $US54,755 to $US164,266

• Median income: $US82,133

• Metro-area population: 3.8 million


Boston, Massachusetts: up to $US171,382

Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US57,127 to $US171,382

• Median income: $US85,691

• Metro-area population: 4.8 million


Washington, DC: up to $US199,338

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Middle-class range: $US66,446 to $US199,338

• Median income: $US99,669

• Metro-area population: 6.2 million


San Francisco, California: up to $US203,428

Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $US67,809 to $US203,428

• Median income: $US101,714

• Metro-area population: 4.7 million

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