It’s such a charged term: middle class. Everyone has an idea of what it means, even if we don’t agree on a single definition. But a median household is a decent place to start, as no matter what your definition of “middle class”, I bet the median household fits within it.
So let’s take a look at what that median household earns.
There’s a lot of interesting data in the Census Bureau’s report, but here is their high level summary broken down by household type and race (edited slightly for formatting). Note that only the percent increases noted with an asterisk are statistically significant, and all figures are noted in 2016 dollars.
Link to Source Data, Census BureauThe median household income rose 3.2% in 2016, up to $59,039. Buried within this average is an interesting wrinkle: the income of households with married couples only increased 1.6%, while households headed by women without husbands increased their income by 7.2%Black and Hispanic-origin households increased their income (5.7% and 4.3% respectively), more than Non-Hispanic white (which had a 2.0% increase) and Asian households (which did not change significantly).For the first time since 2007, the ratio of female-to-male earnings increased by 1.1%, to 0.805.
In each of these instances, we see a narrowing in income inequality. As Asian and White households are earning more than Black and Hispanic households, it’s encouraging to me to see the latter two groups with greater increases in income, especially since all groups are raising their median income or holding steady.
A similar story is told with female householders with no husband present. (Dear God, they need a better term than that.) They are seeing the