THE MIDDLE TO UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS

Published on .

Most Popular

Will it play in Peoria? Businesses targeting the middle to upper-middle class should know the answer to this question, as the largest concentration of the middle class is found in the Midwest, in such metros as Sheboygan and Oshkosh in Wisconsin and, yes, Peoria. With 26 million households, the middle to upper-middle class is dominated by people who identify as white alone — 82 percent of people in this category identify with that race group, a larger share than in the population as whole.

Nevertheless, the smaller segments of this income group represent substantial opportunity for marketers. For example, there are more than 2 million black households in this category, which is nearly the same number of households with an income of $200,000 or more. Most businesses would find it convenient to divvy up this category further, as there is a world of difference between a household that is at the bottom of this band, with earnings of $45,000, and one that is at the top, with earnings over $70,000. In fact, census data reveals there are actually more households at the top of this bracket than at the bottom: Of the roughly 26 million households in this income group, about 11 million have an income between $60,000 to $74,999 (representing 43 percent of this segment); 10 million have an income between $50,000 and $59,999 (representing 37 percent); and 5 million have earnings between $45,000 and $49,999 (20 percent).

The size of this group makes further demographic, geographic and psychographic segmentation absolutely essential for marketers, says Catherine D'Azevedo, vice president and media director of The Leslie Agency, a Greenville, S.C.-based marketing firm. This category, she reports, is the target market for one of the agency's clients, the South Carolina Tourism Board, as South Carolina is a drive-to vacation destination. To narrow the market, the agency built a comprehensive demographic and geographic profile, and ran a coupon in Sunday newspaper supplements in key metros last spring. The result: 11,000 requests in one day for information, the largest one-day response the organization had ever had.

TOP 50 METROS: $45,000 TO $74,999

There are millions of middle-class households across the country, but they are mostly concentrated in middle-American metros like Green Bay, Wis., and Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. Smaller metros in the East and West are also home to a large share of the middle class, including two metros in central Pennsylvania, Lancaster and York.

RANK METRO NUMBER PERCENT
1 Sheboygan, WI MSA 14,294 32.8%
2 Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA 43,971 32.2%
3 Wausau, WI MSA 15,037 31.5%
4 York, PA MSA 45,730 30.8%
5 Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSA 20,129 30.4%
6 Green Bay, WI MSA 26,389 30.2%
7 Lancaster, PA MSA 51,876 30.0%
8 Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA 17,483 29.8%
9 Cedar Rapids, IA MSA 22,596 29.4%
10 Sioux Falls, SD MSA 19,612 29.3%
11 Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT MSA 126,323 29.2%
12 St. Cloud, MN MSA 17,635 29.1%
13 Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, MI MSA 115,189 29.0%
14 Rochester, MN MSA 13,875 29.0%
15 Madison, WI MSA 49,979 28.8%
16 Provo-Orem, UT MSA 28,641 28.6%
17 Des Moines, IA MSA 51,050 28.4%
18 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI MSA 322,369 28.3%
19 Fort Wayne, IN MSA 54,408 28.3%
20 New London-Norwich, CT-RI MSA 32,154 28.2%
21 Rockford, IL MSA 39,833 28.1%
22 Colorado Springs, CO MSA 54,029 28.1%
23 Bismarck, ND MSA 10,527 28.0%
24 Reading, PA MSA 39,503 27.9%
25 Burlington, VT MSA 18,131 27.8%
26 Jackson, MI MSA 16,206 27.8%
27 Anchorage, AK MSA 26,312 27.7%
28 Wichita, KS MSA 58,121 27.6%
29 Fort Collins-Loveland, CO MSA 26,750 27.5%
30 Eau Claire, WI MSA 15,774 27.5%
31 Dubuque, IA MSA 9,271 27.5%
32 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA CMSA 382,819 27.5%
33 Peoria-Pekin, IL MSA 37,301 27.4%
34 Portland-Salem, OR-WA CMSA 237,789 27.4%
35 Omaha, NE-IA MSA 75,659 27.4%
36 Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle, PA MSA 68,037 27.3%
37 Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA-NC MSA 157,532 27.3%
38 Portland, ME MSA 27,058 27.1%
39 Lincoln, NE MSA 26,920 27.1%
40 Kansas City, MO-KS MSA 188,313 27.1%
41 Bloomington-Normal, IL MSA 15,363 27.1%
42 Barnstable-Yarmouth, MA MSA 18,788 27.0%
43 Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC MSA 155,564 27.0%
44 Atlanta, GA MSA 405,658 26.9%
45 Milwaukee-Racine, WI CMSA 177,362 26.9%
46 Topeka, KS MSA 18,520 26.8%
47 Kokomo, IN MSA 11,090 26.8%
48 Fort Walton Beach, FL MSA 17,801 26.8%
49 Boise City, ID MSA 42,537 26.8%
50 Reno, NV MSA 35,440 26.8%
Note: Statistical ties are due to rounding.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data

THE COLOR OF MONEY

Whites dominate the middle to upper-middle class today, but as the U.S. population becomes even more diverse, this should start to change. Although race data from 1990 and 2000 is not strictly comparable because of changes in Census 2000 methodology, the share of minorities in the middle class is on the rise.

RACE NUMBER PERCENT
White alone 21,242,958 82.4%
Black alone 2,318,381 9.0%
Native American alone 156,937 0.6%
Asian alone 752,370 2.9%
Multirace 439,960 1.7%
Hispanic 2,034,718 7.9%
Note: Does not add to 100 percent because chart includes Hispanics, who can be of any race, and excludes Native Hawaiians.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data
In this article: