In the U.S., people tend to stay tight-lipped about their finances. Many people don't even know how much money their coworkers make, much less the rest of the world. So it's probably not surprising that surveys find that a lot of Americans don't know what economic class they belong to. In fact, most people think of themselves as middle class, even if they make significantly more or less than people in the middle class.
To show Americans where they fall in the economic landscape, the Pew Research Center created a calculator that determines what economic bracket the user is in based on pre-tax income and location. The term "middle class" has a lot of connotations, like being able to afford to buy a house or a car, but this is based purely on numbers—are you in the middle range of incomes for your area? That means you make between two-thirds and double the U.S. median household income.
According to Pew, middle income in the U.S. ranges from $45,200 to $135,600, at least as of the most recent data from 2016. But the researchers also accounted for differences in cost of living, since $50,000 in Omaha is a much different financial reality than the same salary in the Bay Area. (Silicon Valley—the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area—had the highest share of upper-income households in the U.S., at 32 percent.) The calculator factors in how many people you support on that income, too.
Let's say you make $50,000 for your household of four people. If you live in Bloomington, Indiana, you're middle income. But if you live in the New York City or Los Angeles metro area on that salary, you're lower income. Similarly, if you live in San Jose and make $150,000 for your family of four, you're middle income. If you take that salary and move to Tucson, you'd be upper income. While you may not be able to hop up an economic class just by moving up the road, location does matter when it comes to how far your money goes.
Want to know where your family stands? Check it out for yourself here.