It takes a lot to be middle class in the Northern Virginia area, and the threshold in Arlington is near the top of a recent nationwide list.
Arlington came third in SmartAsset’s study of entitled, What It Takes to Be Middle Class in America’s Largest Cities, released this month. The analysis looked at 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data.
The list defines middle class as having a household income between two-thirds and double the median for the locality.
For Arlington, that means a household has to bring in at least $84,186 to even be considered middle class, while households with an income of $251,302 are still considered to be in that category, SmartAsset found. The median income is $125,651.
SmartAsset said the large proportion of federal workers and the high levels of education in Arlington (76 percent of residents 25 and older, double the national average, hold at least a bachelor’s degree) were the chief factors bringing up the median income.
Overall for Virginia, the lower limit of the middle class came in at $54,245. The upper end was $161,926, and the median, $80,963.
DC itself came in 13th, with the boundaries of the middle class defined as $60,359 and $180,176 and a median income of $90,088.
The Northeast dominates the top of the rankings, and SmartAsset said it’s not just because of the higher cost of living. It costs about 50 percent more to live in the highest-ranking Northeastern states than the lowest-ranking Southern states, but the middle-class thresholds are about 70 percent higher.
Fremont, California, ranked at the top of the list: It takes $104,499 just to begin to be considered middle class, thanks to the high salaries of Silicon Valley. San Jose comes in second, for largely the same reasons.
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