Do you consider yourself to be part of the middle class?

A new report finds about half of the New Jersey population lives in middle-income households. But the income range for families considered middle class is huge.

The analysis of government Census data conducted by the Pew Research Center finds in Central Jersey, a family of four is considered middle class if their combined annual income is anywhere between $59,000 and $174,000.

In South Jersey, a family of four with a combined income of between $55,000 and $162,000 can be considered middle class.

But in North Jersey, the range for the middle class is $64,000 all the way up to $191,000.

The overall average in New Jersey for what is considered to be middle class income for a family of four is between $60,000 and $177,000 a year.

According to Rutgers University economist James Hughes, "middle class" can mean many things these days. But “somebody earning $60,000 in New Jersey would really be struggling to say they’re in the middle class.”

Hughes pointed out that not too long ago, “middle class meant that you could live a good life and only have one spouse working. Today, to be middle class, it really takes two working spouses.”

He said the amount of income needed in New Jersey to be considered part of the middle class is higher than in most other parts of the nation because of our sky-high housing costs.

“This includes the actual price of housing and the cost of living in the housing: property taxes, insurance and utilities," he said.

He said a family earning $190,000 a year in parts of North Jersey may sound like a small fortune to some, but “housing costs are extraordinarily high the closer you get to New York City."

According to the Pew Analysis, 52 percent of adults in the United States live in middle class households. In North Jersey, 48 percent of households are middle class. And in Central Jersey, 50 percent of families are in the middle income bracket.

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