Most jobs across the U.S. don’t support a middle-class lifestyle, leaving many struggling. Sixty-two percent of jobs fall short of that middle-class standard when factoring in both wages and the cost of living in the metro area where the job is located.
A slight majority of Americans, 52 percent, do live in middle-class households, according to recent annual reports by Pew Research Center. And another 20 percent or so live in upper income households. But that’s because they’re juggling multiple jobs or relying other household members who may have higher-paying jobs.
Trenton, New Jersey, and Durham, North Carolina, rank highest among the nation’s 204 largest metro areas in share of middle-class or better jobs. Honolulu and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are near the bottom.
Areas like Myrtle Beach, fall short because of a scarcity of good-paying jobs. Cities like LA, New York and San Francisco were ranked fairly low because of their high cost of living
The rankings show stark contrasts. A factory machinist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, earns an average $45,470 a year, enough to meet the $40,046 threshold for a middle-class job in that area.
But a similar machinist in San Francisco makes more, $57,220 on average but it’s far short of the $82,142 necessary to meet the minimum for a middle-class job in that area. It costs an average $32,440 a year to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, while it is $7,368 in Cedar Rapids.
30% of jobs are “hardship jobs,” meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet.
32% are “living wage” jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home.
23% are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement.
15% are “professional jobs,” paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.