Is $250K Middle Class?

In the third democratic debate the following exchange took place:

Moderator asked Hillary Clinton: “You have said it’s your goal not to raise taxes on families making under $200,000 a year a goal. But can you say that’s a promise as you stand here tonight?”

Hillary Clinton: “That is a pledge that I’m making. I made it when I ran in 2008.”  She went on to say, “I don’t think a middle-class tax should be part of anybody’s plan right now.”

The moderator then turned to one of the other candidates and asked, “She has now promised here tonight not to raise them on families making $250,000 or less. Can you make that same promise if you’re elected?”

Is $250,000 middle class in America?  Surely if the average American family is really making $250,000 a year then they don’t need any help for anything do they?  Why do we have to pay for all these programs if everyone is so well off?

But then is $250,000 really middle class?  There are a three sources to check for an answer.

According to the U.S. Census the real medium household income in 2014 was $53,657.  They also have the following household income brackets:

  • Lowest quintile had incomes of $21,432 or less;
  • Second quintile had incomes between $21,432 and $41,186;
  • Third quintile had incomes between $41,187 and $68,212
  • Fourth quintile had incomes between $68,213 and $112,262
  • The highest quintile had incomes of $112,263 or more
  • The top 5% of households had incomes of $206,568 or more

Poverty level for a family of four is in 2016 is $24,300.

The Social Security Department has the following statistics per wage earner for 2014:

  • Average wage of all earners in the US: $44,569.20 comprising 67.2% of all wage earners
  • Median wage earned is estimated at $28,851.21 with 50% of earners making less and 50% making more.
  • 30.81961% of workers make less than or equal to $14,999.99 a year.
  • 44.99547% of wage earners make less than or equal to $24,999.99 a year
  • 51.43903% of wage earners make less than or equal to $29,999.99 a year.
  • 57.43690% of wage earners make less than or equal to $34,999.99 a year.
  • 98.82726% of wage earners make less than or equal to $249,999.99 during the year.  They account for 156,331,660 workers.
  • 1,855,126 workers made over $250,000 in the year.  That accounts for 1.17274% of earners.

Pew Research estimates a range for middle income depending on family size:

  • Family size 1 person: $24,173 to $72,521
  • Family size 2 people: $34,186 to $102,560
  • Family size 3 people: $41,869 to $125,609
  • Family size 4 people: $48,947 to $145,041
  • Family size 5 people: $54,053 to $162,161

They also state:

  • 50% of American adults live in middle-income households.
  • 29% live in middle income households
  • 21% live in upper-income households

They have an income calculator for you to find out where your households income falls:

So according to the US Census the median household earned between $41,187 and $68,212.  According to the Social Security Administration the median worker earned $28,851.21.  According to Pew Research the median household income ranged between $24,173 for a family of one to $162,161 for a family of 5.

All of those numbers are a long way from $200,000 let alone $250,000 a year in income.  Only 1.17% of wage earners made over $250,000 in the year; and the US Census puts the top 5% of households at earnings over $206,568.

It makes me wonder just how any of the multitude of Hillary Clintons promises being made to the middle class will be paid for; or if they are actually just empty promises. Four of her top five donors come from financial institution PACs; and as a recent comment to my blog points out, businesses expect a return on investment from their political contributions.



7 thoughts on “Is $250K Middle Class?

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    1. I agree it illuminates how out of touch a lot of politicians are, and have been. I’ve been spending time looking at the information coming from the campaigns; its a lot to sift through. Sen. Sanders seems to be more practical in his policy positions from what I’ve read and seen.


  1. and so with stark numbers like that it’s no wonder folks have little to no discretionary money to spend to ‘stimulate’ the economy. I remember George W Bush saying we have to give the rich tax breaks so they can stimulate the economy. That made no sense to me then as all my rich friends had everything they needed and wanted. It was the middle class and poor folks who ‘needed’ it and would have had to spend it that would have stimulated the economy but no it seems the poor are always asked to pay for everything … now the Republicans want to take away or drastically reduce Social Security, medicare and not ask their rich friends to pay even a cent more in taxes to help save any of those programs. The more I find out the more Bernie Sanders sounds like a good idea! Take the cap of Social Security taxes … that would help pay for a lot of needed programs for seniors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With numbers like that it is easy to understand how someone might find a $1,000 or $1,500 medical bill hard to pay. If you go with Hillary Clinton’s middle income amount then a bill like that shouldn’t be hard to pay at all. If you go with reality and factor in rent, food, gas, taxes, and then premiums, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance etc., it is really easy to see how it could be hard to pay that “small” bill.


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