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

Here's what the middle class is in the largest US cities.

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Here’s what the middle class is in the largest US cities.
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Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Haute Living

  • 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 $39,000 to $118,000 in 2016, according to Pew’s definition, but middle-class incomes vary at the state and city levels.
  • Some Silicon Valley residents earning $400,000 consider themselves to be in the middle class, a recent 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 $59,039 in 2016, meaning middle-class Americans were earning about $39,000 to $118,000.

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 $10,000 to $399,999 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 2016 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.


Tampa, Florida: up to $102,230

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Shutterstock / Bonnie Fink

Middle-class range: $34,076 to $102,230

• Median income: $51,115

• Metro-area population: 3 million


Miami, Florida: up to $102,724

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Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $34,241 to $102,724

• Median income: $51,362

• Metro-area population: 6.1 million


Orlando, Florida: up to $104,770

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Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $34,923 to $104,770

• Median income: $52,385

• Metro-area population: 2.4 million


San Antonio, Texas: up to $112,210

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $37,403 to $112,210

• Median income: $56,105

• Metro-area population: 2.4 million


Detroit, Michigan: up to $112,284

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Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $37,428 to $112,284

• Median income: $56,142

• Metro-area population: 4.3 million


Phoenix, Arizona: up to $116,150

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Gregory E. Clifford/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $38,717 to $116,150

• Median income: $58,075

• Metro-area population: 4.7 million


Riverside, California: up to $116,472

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Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $38,824 to $116,472

• Median income: $58,236

• Metro-area population: 4.5 million


St. Louis, Missouri: up to $119,560

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J Byard/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $39,853 to $119,560

• Median income: $59,780

• Metro-area population: 2.8 million


Charlotte, North Carolina: up to $119,958

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Shutterstock/digidreamgrafix

Middle-class range: $39,986 to $119,958

• Median income: $59,979

• Metro-area population: 2.5 million


Houston, Texas: up to $123,416

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $41,139 to $123,416

• Median income: $61,708

• Metro-area population: 6.8 million


Atlanta, Georgia: up to $125,226

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ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $41,742 to $125,226

• Median income: $62,613

• Metro-area population: 5.8 million


Dallas, Texas: up to $127,624

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $42,541 to $127,624

• Median income: $63,812

• Metro-area population: 7.2 million


Los Angeles, California: up to $131,900

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Melpomene/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $43,967 to $131,900

• Median income: $65,950

• Metro-area population: 13.3 million


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: up to $131,992

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Ed Yakovich / Wikimedia Commons

Middle-class range: $43,997 to $131,992

• Median income: $65,996

• Metro-area population: 6.1 million


Chicago, Illinois: up to $132,040

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Helen Sessions/Alamy

Middle-class range: $44,013 to $132,040

• Median income: $66,020

• Metro-area population: 9.5 million


Portland, Oregon: up to $137,352

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iStock/csfotoimages

Middle-class range: $45,784 to $137,352

• Median income: $68,676

• Metro-area population: 2.4 million


San Diego, California: up to $141,648

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Shutterstock/Sebastien Burel

Middle-class range: $47,216 to $141,648

• Median income: $70,824

• Metro-area population: 3.3 million


New York City: up to $143,794

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TTstudio/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $47,931 to $143,794

• Median income: $71,897

• Metro-area population: 20.2 million


Denver, Colorado: up to $143,852

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Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $47,951 to $143,852

• Median income: $71,926

• Metro-area population: 2.9 million


Minneapolis, Minnesota: up to $146,462

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Flickr/Dougtone

Middle-class range: $48,821 to $146,462

• Median income: $73,231

• Metro-area population: 3.6 million


Baltimore, Maryland: up to $153,576

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jimmyweee/Flickr

Middle-class range: $51,192 to $153,576

• Median income: $76,788

• Metro-area population: 2.8 million


Seattle, Washington: up to $157,224

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Flickr / Howard Ignatius

Middle-class range: $52,408 to $157,224

• Median income: $78,612

• Metro-area population: 3.8 million


Boston, Massachusetts: up to $164,760

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Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $54,920 to $164,760

• Median income: $82,380

• Metro-area population: 4.8 million


Washington, DC: up to $191,686

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Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Middle-class range: $63,895 to $191,686

• Median income: $95,843

• Metro-area population: 6.1 million


San Francisco, California: up to $193,354

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Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock

Middle-class range: $64,451 to $193,354

• Median income: $96,677

• Metro-area population: 4.7 million