SmartAsset researchers found that the best states for the middle class are clustered in the Western part of the U.S., including Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. Many Midwest states also scored high in the rankings. But the middle class may find the toughest time with affordability in the Northeast.

Key Findings

Go West – The best states for the middle class are clustered in the Western part of the U.S. For example, three of the top five states for the middle class are Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.

Midwest scores well – Other than Western states, it is states in the Midwest that score best. All but one state in our top 10 lies in either the Midwest or the Western portion of the country.

Tough for the middle class in the Northeast – With high tax burdens, low homeownership rates and unaffordable housing, it is not too surprising that states in the Northeast tumble down the ranks. Five of the worst-ranked states are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut. (Only Washington, D.C. ranks lower, at dead last.)

SmartAsset ranked the best states for the middle class by examining several factors, including the percent of households in the middle class, percent of households below the middle class, number of new middle-class jobs, percent growth in middle-class jobs, effective property tax rate, the effective income tax rate, median home value, and homeownership value.

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