Who is Middle Class?

By: Auburn Hutton
By: Auburn Hutton

Saying he's fighting for Nevada's middle class families, congressman dean heller has proposed an extension of the "child tax credit" beyond the year 2011. So who exactly is heller fighting for? In other words, who are the middle class?

"Most people feel like they're in the middle class. You can ask anyone how they fit in and they'll feel like they're middle class," said Dr. Elliott Parker, Economics Professor at UNR.

Call it being humble, or call it what you will, but most people's desire to be classified as average, actually has some numbers attached to it.

"If you make a household income of $15,000, an economist would say you're in the lower class. If you make a family income of $90,000 or more you'd be in the upper 20%, which is lower class," said Parker.

The span between lower class at $15 grand and upper class at $90 grand is huge. 60% of Reno's population falls in between those two salaries...making them middle class.

Where you live doesn't necessarily define you, but how much you make can determine what you can afford, which is an indicator of what class you fall under.

"Middle class, right on the edge I guess. I work full time, but my husband only works part time, so we have to stretch things a bit. We probably make a little over $30,000," said Bonita McGraw of Reno.

"I define myself as lower middle class. I am a single mother, a breadwinner, own my own home. It's a condominium in a middle class neighborhood," said Laura Macias of Sparks.

Economists say no matter where you fall on the pay scale, middle class is all relative.

"You could ask Bill Gates and he'd probably think he was middle class. Middle class isn't an income level necessarily, it's a lifestyle, an attitude about where you fit in on things."

If middle class sounds like a pretty average thing to be, well that's because it is. More than half of the Reno's population falls into that category, and their salary's range by about 80-thousand dollars.


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