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The Six Main Financial Levels of Society in the United States

Updated on February 22, 2015
Society is separated more by money and wealth than by anything else
Society is separated more by money and wealth than by anything else | Source

Introduction

In the United States, society and the people and families in society can be broadly divided into six financial classes. These financial classes are based on levels of income and education. From highest to lowest, the six financial classes are:

  • Upper/Capitalist Class
  • Upper-Middle Class
  • Lower-Middle Class
  • Working class
  • Working poor
  • Lower/Under Class

Upper/Capitalist Class

This is the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the US. This financial class includes celebrities, heirs, executives and other people with very high levels of wealth. The typical income of people in this class is normally above $500,000 a year and Ivy League or equivalent levels of education are very common.

For the richest, spending hundreds of dollars on a meal is a trivial matter
For the richest, spending hundreds of dollars on a meal is a trivial matter | Source

Upper-Middle Class

Making up the next 15% of society, the upper-middle class is comprised of professionals and middle-managers. These individuals normally have a high level of independence in their employment and can earn salaries from $70,000 to $100,000 or above. People in the upper-middle class are often highly educated with professional degrees in areas like business management, accounting, law, medical areas and the like. The overall percentage of people that are in this class or above is approximately 16%.

Lower-Middle Class

The next 30% of society is made up of the lower-middle class. These could be craftsmen, contractors, tradesmen, lower-management and other semi-professional occupations. Vocational and college education is very common with annual salaries ranging between $30,000 - $75,000+. The overall percentage of people that are in this class or above is approximately 46%.

Having some level of disposable income is important to peace-of-mind and a happy life
Having some level of disposable income is important to peace-of-mind and a happy life | Source

Working Class

Administrative, clerical, retail, service and blue-collar workers make up this class which accounts for the next 30% of society. People in these types of roles typically have routine jobs and a lack of job security. High school and a little college education is normal and the average salary is typically between $16,000 and $30,000. The overall percentage of people that are in this class or above is approximately 75%.

TED - How financial inequality can harm societies

Working Poor

Some retail and service workers, apprentices, blue-collar and other low-skilled workers fall into this category which makes up around 15% of society. At this level, job security is rare and there is a very significant risk of poverty. Some high school education is normal and annual salaries are up to $20,000. The overall percentage of people that are in this class or above is approximately 90%.

Life is no fun if you have to save every penny
Life is no fun if you have to save every penny | Source

Lower/Under Class

The lowest financial social class is the lower/under class which makes up around 10% of society. People in this social class have very limited or no involvement with the labor force and often rely on government handouts and subsidies. Many people at this level either do not have an annual income or earn less than $10,000 a year.

In the land of the free, no-one should be forced to live in poverty
In the land of the free, no-one should be forced to live in poverty | Source

Where do you fit in the financial levels of society?

What would you describe your financial level at?

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In closing

Income distribution, education and employment differs radically between different financial classes. Although there is limited mobility between these classes, a majority of people will stay in one or two financial classes for their whole lives.

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    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Hi :) I wasn't really trying to make a point with the article (I think wealth inequality is a hot-button topic and is better covered elsewhere); this was purely meant to be a look at the different financial levels.

    • profile image

      win-winresources 2 years ago from Colorado

      Mr. Maplesden-

      Thanks for the description of the economic classes of people in the US. Your point, however, must be too subtle for me.

      Yes, there is a wide range of "wealth" that individuals acquire through a variety of means. To those that accumulate great wealth legally, I wish them the best and do not envy them. To those that give 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay, I say congratulations. To those who can't work I say give them a hand up not a hand out. To those who refuse to work - what can I say?

      There will always be financial strata.

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