Homes in San Marcos, California, are pictured.
Mike Blake/Reuters

A morning roundup of the day’s news.

Is $100,000 “average”? Though a majority of Americans now identify as "middle class"—the highest proportion since 2003—there's growing debate over what exactly that phrase means today. While a $59,000 annual income falls smack dab in the middle in countrywide stats, in some places, like D.C. and Newton, Massachusetts, the average income is closer to $100,000. The Washington Post analyzes the numbers:

America’s middle-class ranges from $35,000 to $122,500 in annual income, according to The Post’s calculation. (The data is in 2016 dollars before taxes. You can see in the chart below how much the range varies by household size). Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at Pew, calls it a “fair” estimate. He helped craft Pew's definition.

The bottom line is: $100,000 is on the middle-class spectrum, but barely: 75 percent of U.S. households make less than that.

Power struggles: The tiny Montana firm that’s received national scrutiny as the suspicious winner of a $300 million contract to restore power to Puerto Rico responded testily to criticisms from the mayor of San Juan, who called the contract “alarming” and is calling for a “clear, transparent” process. (New York Times, Los Angeles Times)

Drone experiments: A new federal program will allow cities and states to partner with tech giants like Amazon and Google to accelerate drone tests across the U.S. (Recode)

No vaping: A growing number of U.S. cities and states—including New York, as of next month—are moving to treat e-cigarettes like normal cigarettes by banning their use in public places. (Ars Technica)

LGBTQ-friendly cities: While more than 30 U.S. states have created new anti-LGBTQ legislation this year, cities are trending more toward inclusivity across states red and blue, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The org’s Municipal Equality Index, rating equity through policies and services, saw 68 cities receive “perfect scores,” with California leading the pack. (Route Fifty)

When cities wanted to ban Halloween: During the Great Depression, the “malicious violence and looting” associated with Halloween—a tradition that Irish and Scottish immigrants originally brought to the U.S. in the 1800s—had become so contentious that several cities considered prohibiting it. (The History Channel)

The urban lens:

Share your city on Instagram using #citylabontheground.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Multicolored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation
    Equity

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.

  2. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  3. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  4. Equity

    Capturing Black Bottom, a Detroit Neighborhood Lost to Urban Renewal

    “Black Bottom Street View,” now exhibiting at the Detroit Public Library, thoughtfully displays old images of the historic African American neighborhood in its final days.

  5. A photo of a new subdivision under construction in South Jordan, Utah.
    Perspective

    A Red-State Take on a YIMBY Housing Bill

    Utah’s SB 34, aimed at increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing, may hold lessons for booming cities of the Mountain West, and beyond.