KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defining the middle class: It’s more difficult than you might think. Everyone has a different opinion and that includes the presidential candidates. In a recent interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked how he defined the middle class. “Is $100,000 middle-income?” asked Stephanopoulos. “No, middle-income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” said Romney.
The Washington Post says President Obama also has set his definition for ‘middle class’ as families with income of up to $250,000 a year. Just how much does the middle class make? It depends on who you ask. “I would say about $100,000 or less,” said Sharon Cummings, a Metropolitan Community College student and mother. Jim Altin is retired. He said he defines the middle class as a family making $150,000.
In reality Jeff Pinkerton with MARC, the Mid-America Regional Council says the average American makes much less. The census bureau says the median household income in the United States is just under $52,000. In the Kansas City area the median household income is a little more at $54,000.
“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars really seems pretty high income to me. When you look at the nation that really puts you at the 98th percentile, so to call the 98th percentile toward the middle really doesn’t make a whole of sense to me,” said Pinkerton.
Middle class seems to be relative. Defining it by income alone without taking into consideration where one lives and the size of one’s family can change everything.
But nearly everyone we talked with agreed on one thing: that both candidates seem out of touch with what people who consider themselves middle class feel.