LOS ANGELES - Are you considered "middle class" by California standards?
A new study by Consumer Affairs has tabulated the minimum annual income require for a family of four to be considered middle class in each state, and in California, that income is $69,064.
It's quite a few notches below the state with the most expensive income for middle class - Hawaii - where a family of four would need to rake in $82,630.
Washington D.C. and New York tied for second ($81,396), New Jersey and Connecticut ranked third ($80,163), then Massachusetts ($76,463). Maryland, New Hampshire, and Washington all tied to round out the top five ($73,997).
The bottom five include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia and Mississippi.
"Historically, the middle class has been the engine of American economic growth and prosperity," Oliver Rust, head of Product at independent inflation data aggregator Truflation, told Consumer Affairs. "Yet we’re now seeing the middle class capturing a lower share of income than in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In the two decades since the mid-2000s, it has shrunk from roughly 60%, in part due to demographic changes as the population has seen a particularly steep increase at the extreme bottom and top of the economic spectrum."
The study found that since 2020, inflation has surged substantially, peaking at 9% in June 2022. Some families that were middle class in 2020 may no longer be in that category, data showed.
Rust added that the shrinking of the middle class is the result of the polarization of where growth is coming from, nothing that while some people are falling out of the middle class into the lower class, some are also moving into the upper class.
"Another important factor to consider is the aging population of the U.S.," he said. "Normally, retirees live off savings and generate little income. This dynamic, combined with a higher number of immigrants, tends to bring down median incomes."
The nation’s median household income was $70,784 in 2021, according to census data.
To read more on the study, tap or click here.