Who's in and who's out
Great article! I understand that lifestyle changes dramatically until household imaging reaches $140-180K (assume no kids, adjust that up for kids). Then most of the extra above that is invested.
Would be interesting to see some data on how middle class people spend each additional $20K of household income going from $60K to $180K.
For example, the first $20K from $60-$80K is 40% paying down debt, 30% increased consumption, 15% increased taxes, and 15% additional education.
I'd be curious to see where those Pew ranges sit within the distribution curve of each of these states and if those could warrant subdividing middle class ranges into smaller areas (e.g., is it worth pulling the Chicago MSA out of the rest of the state). It would provide more regionally specific middle class definitions, but I'm not sure if that's how the middle class definition is supposed to work.
At the end of the day, a trip to Paris is going to cost close to the same whether you're in Chicago or Peoria or Mobile, but buying a home won't.