Report: Utah has the nation’s strongest middle class

March 24, 2022 (

The proportion of Utah’s population that could be considered middle class is over 50% and growing.

The latest report from the Utah Foundation shows Utah has the highest percentage — 54% — of middle-class citizens of any state in the country, well above the national average, even outperforming neighboring Wyoming and Idaho, both of which have 52% of the population in the middle class.

“The nation’s middle class has gradually been shrinking, and some American cities have become highly stratified,” Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard said in a news release. The national average of middle-class percentages is 47%, according to the report.

Middle class is defined in the 14-page report as a household income between two-thirds and double the state’s median income. Beginning in 2016, the size of Utah’s middle class began trending somewhat upward, and by 2019 had reached a level not seen since 2008, the report states.

Reichard said Utah’s robust middle class is part of what makes the state special, but he warned against complacency.

“If Utah wants to avoid becoming a place of haves and have-nots, more of our young people need to obtain the credentials to fully participate in the economy and achieve middle-class status,” he said.

It is the latest in a series of studies on the components of social cohesion, or the bonds between neighbors and among networks, which they can use to benefit themselves and the group as a whole. The foundation defines social cohesion as “the foundational commonalities that allow a population to function effectively as a group.”

Among the report’s other findings: Only about 2% of school-age children in Utah have limited English proficiency skills. That’s lower than most other states. The proportion of adults with limited English skills is about 6%. That places Utah at 22nd in the nation, but far below Nevada, where 13% of the adult population has limited English skills.

A large proportion of Utah’s population — 62% — was born here. That’s the highest percentage in the West, more than double the number of natives in Nevada, and 19th in the country, the report states.

“Utah’s unique culture may help ground its citizens in the state and draw them back once they leave,” the report states.

Reichard said the foundation’s ongoing work on post-secondary educational attainment goes to the heart of sustaining a strong middle class. The Utah Foundation plans to continue its series with studies regarding the future focus of Utah’s social capital and social mobility.

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