When it comes to personal finance, what it means to be “rich” is relative. Ask the 73.3 million minimum wage workers in the U.S. the income level they consider rich, and then pose the same question to the more than 700 American billionaires. Between the two groups, answers are bound to differ by orders of magnitude.
While there is no strict definition of what it means to be rich, there are some useful income benchmarks to compare how you stack up in the financial hierarchy. (This is how wealthy the middle class was the year you were born.)
Reviewing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey on the minimum household income needed to be among the top 20% of earners, 24/7 Wall St. identified the income it takes to be considered rich in every state.
Nationwide, it takes an annual household income of at least $140,307 to be in the highest earning 20% of households. Depending on the state, households need to make anywhere from about $102,000 to over $180,000 to rank among the top 20% of earners. In most of the country, top earners bring in at least $60,000 more per year than the typical household and account for over half of all earned income.
To be among the highest earning 5% of households, annual incomes start anywhere from $175,500 to over $250,000, depending on the state. (These are the states where Americans make the least money.)
Generally, states where the threshold to be among the top 20% of earners is highest also tend to have a higher than average cost of living. In the 10 states where it takes the highest income to be considered rich, the cost of living is anywhere from 1% to 12% higher than the national average.
Click here to see the income it takes to be rich in every state.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.
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