Where would you prefer to be middle-class: The United States or Japan? Would you choose to live in a middle-class household in Boston, Massachusetts, or Lisbon, Portugal? While people talk about the decline of America’s middle-class, the heart and soul of the nation’s economy is thriving. In fact, the nation’s middle-class is the best in the world. Why?
A Look at the Data
It is essential to look at the amount of money people make when discussing America’s middle-class. The first statistic to examine is annual income. If your household earns a minimum of $52,000 per year in the US, then you are a part of the global 1%. More middle-class Americans are moving into a higher income bracket – about one-third of US households are earning an all-time high of $100,000 or more.
But understanding the middle-class goes beyond just earning power. Let’s look at the size of homes. The average middle-class American has more living space than the average middle- or high-income person from France, Sweden, or the UK. In the US, newly built homes are around 2,500 square feet today, up from about 1,500 square feet in 1973. In the United Kingdom, for example, this figure is about half.
The cost of housing is a lot cheaper in the US when compared to the rest of the world. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), housing costs are the third-lowest, at 18% of income.
What does the makeup of the typical middle-class home look like? Take a look around in your own home – rich, poor, or somewhere in between. The data suggests that you have multiple television sets throughout the home, high-speed internet, video game consoles, several smartphones, a desktop computer, and Netflix. Of course, there is one item in your home that will save you from the heat: the air conditioner. What was once considered a luxury is now essential. The Census Bureau found that more than 80% of all homes in the US have some type of air conditioning, and the US consumes more air conditioning than all the other countries combined.
While our problems are subjective, on a worldwide level they pale in comparison to even the wealthiest of people living in Sierra Leone or middle-income families in Latvia.