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The cities with the highest share of middle income residents

Pew calculates the median income of American middle-class earners as $106,100 as of 2022. Here are the seven cities that had the highest share of middle-income residents as of that year:

  1. Dover, Delaware
  2. Olympia-Tumwater, Washington
  3. Glens Falls, New York
  4. Bismarck, North Dakota
  5. Ogden-Clearfiend, Utah
  6. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  7. Provo-Oren, Utah

Several of these cities are located in the Rust Belt, an area once dominated by industrial jobs and manufacturing that’s been on the decline in more recent years. Many of these cities also offer moderate home prices.

Zillow puts the average U.S. home value at $360,681. The average Dover home value is a notch below at $321,342. And the average home value in Bismarck, ND is $349,725. Moderate home prices can help stretch an average paycheck, leading to more savings and a higher net worth over time.

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The cities with the highest share of upper income residents

The median income for upper-income Americans in 2022 was $256,900. And here’s the seven cities that have the highest share of those high-earners:

  1. San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
  3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
  4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  5. Trenton, New Jersey
  6. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Many of these cities are tech hubs that offer competitive salaries — notably, the California locales and Austin, Texas. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area is very much a political hub, while the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area tends to attract financial professionals, with New York City being a reasonable (though long) commute.

Of course, housing prices in these areas tend to be exorbitant. The average home value in San Jose is $1,479,487. In Oakland, it's $805,867. And thanks to an influx of tech jobs, even once-affordable Austin now has an average home value of $548,654. So while these cities may have a large share of higher earners, for many people, much of that income gets eaten up by housing.

The cities with the highest share of lower income residents

Finally, the median salary of the country’s lower-income workers was $35,318 as of 2022, and these were the seven cities where you’ll find the highest concentration residing:

  1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
  2. Monroe, Louisiana
  3. Laredo, Texas
  4. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas
  5. Visalia-Porterville, California
  6. El Paso, Texas
  7. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

It's not surprising to see a couple of Louisiana cities on this list, as that's one of the states with the highest three-year poverty rates from 2019 to 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Both Texas and California had an elevated poverty rate during that time as well, though not as high as Louisiana.

It's also no surprise that home values are largely lower in these cities. The average McAllen home value is $225,253. For Monroe, it's $143,442. However, even with property values considerably lower than the national average, it’s still hard for lower-income earners to become homeowners.

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How to grow your income

You may be eager to grow a lower income into a middle one, or a middle income into a higher one. But rather than focus on solely growing your income, it pays to focus on your net worth, which is a total measure of your assets minus your liabilities.

Of course, a higher income can be a stepping stone to a greater net worth. So to that end, it pays to take steps such as:

  • Boosting job skills. Sites like LinkedIn offer free online coursework to help you grow professionally.
  • Move to an area where jobs are abundant in your industry and salaries are higher. Sites like Salary.com can help you research wage data.
  • Advocate for higher wages if you feel you’re underpaid. Sites like Glassdoor allow you to compare your earnings to the average wages in your area.

From there, there are several steps you can take to grow your net worth, as such:

  • Buying a home. Property values tend to rise over time. Over the past 30 years, the median U.S. home sale price rose from $132,000 to $420,800, according to the Federal Reserve.
  • Avoiding credit card debt. Money not spent on interest is money you can save and invest.
  • Investing in the stock market. The average stock market return since 1926 has been about 10%. Investing $1,000 at a 10% return could leave you with almost $73,000 after 45 years.
  • Claiming all the free money you can. See if your employer offers a 401(k) match, or if you’re eligible for money toward student loan repayment.

Of course, as your salary and net worth grow, you may be tempted to relocate to a part of the country with a larger share of higher earners. But staying put could help you avoid lifestyle creep and stay on track with your long-term financial goals.


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Maurie Backman Freelance Writer

Maurie Backman is a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has more than a decade of experience writing about financial topics, including retirement, investing, Social Security, and real estate.


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.