ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With looming news about inflation and rising prices, you might wonder what it takes to be in ‘middle class’ in New Mexico. While there’s no clear definition of who is middle class and who isn’t, some recent research might give some insight.

An analysis of 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data by the financial company SmartAsset reveals that in some U.S. cities, it takes an income of around $60,000 per year to be middle class. But in Albuquerque, middle class seems to start at around half of that.

SmartAsset says Albuquerque’s middle class starts at an income of $36,175 per year. That would mean you need to make more than $15 per hour (working 40 hours a week) to have a middle-class income.

They also place the upper limit on Albuquerque’s middle class at about $108,000. That’s an hourly wage of about $52.

Albuquerque’s middle-class income ranks relatively low compared to other major cities. The city with the highest middle class is Freemont, California. SmartAsset calculates that you need to make more than $104,000 there to just barely make it into the middle class.

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SmartAsset ranked U.S. cities by income needed to reach middle class. Table from SmartAsset.

Denver's middle class starts at an income of about $55,000. Houston's middle class starts at an income of about $37,000, according to SmartAsset.

But don't get too wrapped up in comparing your paycheck to neighboring states. As noted earlier, there's no agreed-upon definition of 'middle class' and being in the middle class doesn't necessarily mean your quality of life is higher than someone who isn't in the middle class.