Being a member of the middle class in the U.S. isn’t what it was 50 years ago, according to a new report from SmartAsset, a personal finance technology company.
For one thing, fewer households today are middle class, declining from 61% in 1971 to 52% in 2018, the report said, citing Pew Research Center data.
SmartAsset notes that lowered living standards, a decline in real wages and the rising cost of consumer goods and housing have squeezed middle-class households, hobbling their upward mobility.
Still, some areas in the U.S. are better suited than others to this socioeconomic class. To find them, SmartAsset researchers examined data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and compared states across seven metrics.
They looked specifically at the percentage of households in the middle class, median household income adjusted for cost of living, median home value, homeownership rate and Gini index. They also considered two four-year changes: median household income and middle-class job growth.
Researchers then ranked each state in every metric, giving a full weighting to each, found each state’s average ranking and used this average to determine a final score. The state with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, while the one with the lowest average ranking — New York — scored zero.
See the gallery for the 12 best states for the middle class.
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