Lower, Middle and Upper Class Income Levels

The American dream is based on the existence of a viable middle class.

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In the United States, people and classes are categorized by income levels. These levels fluctuate from one year to the next and you may find yourself changing groups whether your income remains the same or not. With 56 percent of the population in the middle class, it is the largest group in America as of 2013.

Lower Middle Class

The lower middle class consists of mostly blue-collar workers who make just enough to distinguish themselves from the poor or lower class. The average income for lower middle-class households is $29,204 as of September 2012, compared with the lower-class average of $23,550 for a family of four. Workers who fall into the lower middle-class category are typically uneducated and work for hourly wages rather than in salaried positions. In Alaska and Hawaii the poverty line is adjusted upward to $29,440 and $27,090, respectively, in consideration for the higher cost of living.

Middle Middle Class

The middle middle class averages $49,842 in income per year, per household. Most of the middle middle class have college degrees and work in white-collar jobs or other professional positions. Many do not reach management or top level positions due in part to a lack of advanced degrees. Overall, the range of incomes that fit into the middle middle-class category are $32,500 to $60,000 (as of 2012).

Upper Middle Class

At the top end of the middle-class spectrum are the upper middle class. Upper middle-class households earn $60,000 to $150,000 per year with a nationwide average of $80,080. Upper middle-class workers tend to work in white-collar management or executive positions and hold the advanced degrees that allow them to be considered for such work. Although still considered middle class, the higher end of the upper middle-class worker is actually in the top 33 percent of all Americans when it comes to wealth.


The median income for all American households is $50,054 (as of 2013). The middle class is based on this number and how far above and below it a family can exist without reaching poverty or the next level of success. Often the 20 percent existing at the mathematical center of the country's earners are where the middle class starts, and it is built outward from there using factors like housing type and cost of living.

Photo Credits

  • Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

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