What is the MIDDLE CLASS?

Although the middle class is considered the backbone of the American economy, the parameters and demographics that define the middle class are not well understood.

GENERATIONS at carrier


"Indianapolis is where the heart of our soul and our life in America is."

— Rick Fuson, President & COO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Are We There Yet?

The middle class can best be defined as a state of mind, says Austan Goolsbee, professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “If you’re making enough to afford the things that you want for your family, but not so much that you don’t have to think about money.”

Wage stagnation is pushing people out of the middle class, says Goolsbee. “The cost of things that you buy that are part of a middle-class lifestyle—which are not luxury goods, just basics like education, housing, and health care—are going up and incomes are barely keeping pace. And that generates an anxiety and a challenge to the middle class.”

The pandemic has taken its toll. Many low- and middle-income jobs were lost last year, pushing people out of the middle class. “Their jobs were focused in industries where there was lots of face-to-face contact and couldn’t be done on a computer.”

To keep up with the shift in industry—from manufacturing to tech—education remains a ticket to a good-paying job. “We’ve got to keep up. We’ve got to get the skills and credentials. We’ve got to figure out the industries we want to work in and go to the ones that are growing.”

“The middle class has to be strong all the time. Otherwise I think bad things tend to happen.”

— Greg Ballard, Former Mayor of Indianapolis