How to Calculate Your Class Based on Your Income

Income is not the only way to determine your class status, but this exercise is interesting nevertheless (this will only work for people living in the USA- sorry!).

Here’s how you calculate your income category. Go to this website and enter your state and county. It will show you the MFI, or Median Family Income for your area. Median is different than average. Find an explanation here.

This is for a family of four.
If you are living alone, take this number and multiply by 0.7.
For two people in your family, multiply by 0.8.
For three, multiply by 0.9.
For five, multiply by 1.08.
For six, multiply by 1.16.
For seven, multiply by 1.24.

This calculation is the median for your area and family size. How do you find out how your income compares?

Like so:
Take your yearly pre-tax income, and divide it by the MFI for your family size. Multiply this number by 100, and that is the percentage of your local MFI that you make. If the number is above 100, that means you make more than your area median. If the number is below 100, you make less.

If you make 0%-30% of the median, your income category is Extremely Low Income.
If you make 30%-50%, you are Very Low Income.
50%-80% is Low Income.
80%-120% is Moderate Income.
120%-250% is Middle Income.
250% and up is High Income.

So now you know.

MFI in New York City is $78,300.
For an individual MFI is: 78,300 x 0.7 = $54, 810
Say you make $30,000 a year pre-tax. To find your income category, 30,000 / 54,810 = 0.55. 0.55 x 100 = 55%. This means an individual in New York City making $30,000 a year is categorized as Low Income.

I found most of this information in the book “What is Affordable Housing?” by the Center for Urban Pedagogy.

Here’s a tool to look at income category distribution in New York City.


3 thoughts on “How to Calculate Your Class Based on Your Income

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How to Calculate Your Class Based on Your Income « The Czech --

  2. This might work for urban people, but it is very bizarre for the rural poor, because we live in poor counties. The US segregates its poor from its rich. In the cities, this is done by districts and sections, in the country, it is done by entire areas. The MFI for my home county comes out being about half of the one you have listed for NYC. Does it raise the class status of the rural poor because everyone else in the county is broke too? 88% of “persitant poverty counties” (counties which have had 20%+ poverty rates for 30 years) are rural. Rural people are poor at slightly higher rates than urban people (15% vs 12%). I get so weary of discussion of poverty that only address trends and standards that apply to the urban poor and completely ignore the different dynamics of rural poverty.

  3. Hi cat, welcome to The Czech.

    I did not intend for this little exercise to make you feel marginalized! However, you have a point that anyone who lives in an area where just about everyone is poor (or, in a few cases, where everyone is rich, will not find this tool useful. So it only gives you a relative class status, and only works if there is a reasonable spread of incomes.

    NYC’s MFI is high at least in part because it is the most expensive city in the US, even though poverty levels are crazy high.

    In my Kansas hometown, the cost of living is waaaaay lower than NYC, and the MFI is 66% of what it is in NYC.

    But, I don’t think that was your point… your point is that it is possible for an entire area to be poor (by any standard). Perhaps developing a tool to determine a cost of living by county would give more consistent and sensical class measurements.

    If you had been around on The Czech in the past, you would have seen my previous writing on rural poverty and other issues. Right now I live in a city and talk about things that affect me here, but I have a past of living in impoverished rural areas as well.

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