Depending on whom one talks to, the middle class is either shrinking or is gone altogether, at least as it was once configured, but SmartAsset still set out to find the best cities for people who make middle-class incomes. Here's what it found:

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In order to rank the best states for the middle class, we looked at data on the percent of households in the middle class, percent of households below the middle class, number of new middle-class jobs, percent growth in middle-class jobs, effective property tax rate, the effective income tax rate, median home value and homeownership rate. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we got our data and how we put it together to create our final ranking.

Key Findings

  • Go West – The best states for the middle class are clustered in the Western part of the U.S. For example, three of the top five states for the middle class are Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.
  • Midwest scores well – Other than Western states, it is states in the Midwest that score best. All but one state in our top 10 lies in either the Midwest or the Western portion of the country.
  • Tough for the middle class in the Northeast – With high tax burdens, low homeownership rates and unaffordable housing, it is not too surprising that states in the Northeast tumble down the ranks. Five of the worst-ranked states are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut. (Only Washington, D.C. ranks lower, at dead last.)