Majority of Middle-Class Americans Struggle Financially

middle class
Couple budgeting | Image by Chay_Tee/Shutterstock

According to a new poll, most middle-class Americans believe they will struggle financially for the rest of their lives.

The National True Cost of Living Foundation commissioned a poll, that surveyed 2,500 adults and showed that 65% of middle-class respondents reported struggling financially.

The National True Cost of Living Coalition defines “middle class” as those who earn 200% of the federal poverty level. To be qualified as middle class using that criteria, a family of 3 must make $51,640 per year, while a family of 4 must earn $62,400, according to the federal government’s 2024 poverty guidelines.

While most middle-class respondents said they can afford basic expenses, many struggle to set aside money to save for the future.

The data showed that 40% of all Americans, not just the middle class, are unable to plan beyond their next paycheck. Additionally, 46% of Americans do not even have $500 set aside in savings, and 49% are unable to save for unexpected expenses, such as medical bills.

Many Americans are making just enough money to get by while simultaneously making too much money to qualify for financial assistance.

“The economy is booming, and yet many Americans are still gasping for air financially. They simply don’t have the breathing room to plan beyond their present needs,” Jennifer Jones Austin, co-chair of the National True Cost of Living Coalition, said in a press release. “As a nation, it is critical that we understand the true cost of living in the United States today. That means looking beyond the most basic of economic needs to account for what 21st century Americans need to not only get by but get ahead and also plan for tomorrow.”

The Coalition, led by the Community Service Society of New York and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, has commissioned the Urban Institute to “develop a new, national true cost of living measure” to provide a “complete and realistic picture of financial well-being in America.” The new measure is expected to be revealed later this year.

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