March 2, 2024

Generation Z defines the middle class differently than previous generations

According to the common definition, the middle class includes Americans whose income ranges between $38,000 and $114,000. Newsweek asked 1,500 people in the United States whether $74,000 is a “middle class salary” for them.

Among Generation Z (born 1995 to 2010), only 41% answered yes. Agreement was much higher among older generations: 50 percent among Millennials (1980-1994), 61 percent among Generation X (1965-1979), and 73 percent among Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Conclusion: Generation Z doubts your ability to live a comfortable middle-class life on $74,000.

Consumer advocate Miranda Marquette explains the different situations based on her experiences with money: Many members of Generation Z have learned that they need more money to live comfortably than previous generations. She points to the high cost of living.

Adam Harding, CEO of a marketing company, does too: The average student in the US graduates from college with about $30,000 in debt. In addition, there are high costs for apartments and houses, as well as uncertain job opportunities.

Gen Z is starting their careers with much higher expenses than previous generations, says financial advisor Tyler Howe. He cites cell phone bills and streaming subscriptions as well as the overall high cost of living.

“$74,000 sounds good,” says CEO Harding, who is part of Generation Z. “But we often feel like we are struggling to stay afloat financially in a difficult situation.”