Are Lawyers by Definition Members of the Upper Middle Class?

Newly minted lawyers saddled with huge student loans may feel like they are among the working poor.

But some sociologists use occupation to define class, and they put white-collar specialists such as engineers, professors, economists, architects and lawyers into the “upper middle class,” report the Washington Post and the Associated Press. Other white-collar workers, such as teachers, nurses, insurance salespersons and real-estate agents, are among the middle class.

Some economists use income to define class. Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, says the middle class is composed of those whose annual earnings are within 50 percent of the country’s median income. By that measure, members of the middle class earn between $25,000 and $75,000. President Obama has a wider definition, defining the middle class families as those making less than $250,000.

How do Americans define themselves? About 50 percent of Americans believe they are middle class, according to a Washington Post and ABC News poll conducted in May. Thirteen percent said they were upper middle class and 32 percent said they were working class.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.