There's a lot of controversy surrounding the middle class — what is it? Is it going away? How can you get into it or move out of it? What about the different subclasses within it: the lower and upper middle class?
There are no strict thresholds defining the middle class, but most distinguish the middle class in terms of income and occupation. Even within the middle class, there are significant differences between the lower and upper middle class, especially when it comes to income and employment.
Let's look at what the middle class looks like today and how the distribution looks as a whole.
The Lower Middle Class
The lower middle class is also known as the working class. This is the most populous social class, making up 34% of the U.S. population. The lower middle class is said to be made up of mostly “semi-professionals” and lower-level white collar employees. These are people who work in technical jobs, and lower-level management positions.
The average individual income for the lower middle class is between $32,000 and $60,000 per year. Most families in the lower middle class are two income-earning families, and they earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year as a family unit.
From an educational perspective, 24% had a college degree.
For the most part, the lower middle class enjoys a reasonable standard of living, but there is the constant threat of job loss (since most rely on the two incomes to support their family), as well as taxes and inflation.
The Upper Middle Class
The upper middle class has some distinct differences from the lower middle class. The upper middle class consists mostly of educated, white-collared, salaried professionals. The average household income is in excess of $100,000, and the average individual income is $62,500.
It's estimated that the upper middle class makes up roughly 15% of the population.
It's been said that the key to success in the upper middle class is education, which opens the doors to higher-earning jobs and a higher standard of living.
Improving Your Social Status
Want to make that jump from the lower middle class to the upper middle class? It's very possible to change your social status and improve your standard of living. It just takes a few steps:
The first, of course, is income. Money isn't the end-all, but money does make things easier and improves your standard of living. Making the jump from lower middle class to upper middle class means increasing your annual income by roughly $16,000 per year, or $1,300 per month. How can you make an extra $1,300 per month? Hustle.
Remember the story last week about the two college students earning over $100,000 per year? They did it by hustling. How about all of the millionaire interviews I've done? They did it by hustling. You can easily hustle and earn an extra $1,300 per month, but remember the costs of earning more money.
Also, you may have to move somewhere. We talked about this in The Straightforward Truth About Earning More Money — but if you want to make more, move to where there are jobs that pay more. Remember the old saying: “Be where the next position you want to have is.” Check out this map below and see where you should move:
You can make money each month by investing as well. It does take money to invest, but once you have a little nest egg, you can quickly propel yourself into the upper middle class. Then, you can set up a portfolio to generate monthly income and easily fill that $1,300 per month gap.
Want to learn how to invest? Check out our free video investing training.
Finally, improve your education. Most people in the upper middle class have a college degree, so if you want to join them, get a college degree. The sad thing is we still live in a world where a degree is valued more than experience to most employers.
In fact, I know a girl I work with that is highly qualified for a promotion, but her boss won't give it to her until she completes her college degree. Meanwhile, the company has hired several outside people for this same position, simply based on the degree, and they've all failed within six months.
Education matters. Get it done.
Are you working to improve your social status? Do you want to get into the upper middle class?