(NEXSTAR) — What does it mean to be “middle class” anymore? The definition can be confusing — and it changes depending on where you live and how many people are in your household.
In a study published in 2022, the Pew Research Center defined “middle-income” adults as “adults in 2021 with an annual household income that was two-thirds to double the national median income in 2020, after incomes have been adjusted for household size.”
Pew explains that a middle income equals an annual household income of $52,000 to $156,000 for a family of three, based on 2020 dollars. These numbers have not been adjusted for inflation since then.
Adjusted for inflation, using this CPI inflation calculator, annual household income to be classified as middle class would start around $60,000. And Pew reports that while the middle class has famously decreased significantly over time, it “held steady” in 2021.
But what does it mean to be middle class in South Dakota?
Incomes are lower across the state, but so is the cost of living. A recent survey found that if you’re a single person living here, you need to earn $52,095 to live comfortably — the 22nd lowest rate in the nation.
Ultimately, based on the latest available household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a South Dakota household would be considered “middle class” if it earns anywhere between $42,613 and $127,840.
While that range is massive, what is considered a “household” can vary from house to house. That’s where the Pew Research calculator comes in.
Let’s say you’re a single-person household in South Dakota. Based on the Pew Research calculator from 2020, you would be considered middle class if you make between $25,000 and $73,800 before taxes. If there are four people in your household, you’d need to earn between $49,500 and $147,600 to maintain middle-class status.
If you’re one of the 3,700 who left South Dakota for Minnesota last year, that range is even higher. A single-person household there needs between $27,500 and $81,900 to be middle class, while a household of four needs between $54,700 and $163,800.
It’s worth noting that these numbers haven’t been adjusted for our current inflation, which has only increased the cost of living since 2020.
Last year, the median household income in 2022 was $74,580.
And while a 2022 Gallup poll indicated 52% of U.S. adults consider themselves middle class — 38% identified themselves as “middle class,” while 14% identified as “upper-middle class” — Gallup also explains that since the Great Recession, Americans are more likely to identify as “working” or “lower” class.
According to Gallup, 35% of those polled said they considered themselves “working class,” while 11% called themselves “lower class.” The poll acknowledges that some people may consider “working class” and “middle class” to mean the same thing, since these definitions are flexible.
Curious as to where you fall? Pew Research Center’s Are You in the Middle Class? calculator can give you an estimate. And if you’re wondering how far your dollars will stretch if you relocate, Forbes’ Cost of Living Calculator can help you figure out how much you need to maintain your standard of living in a new area.