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Real People

Since AMCHAS is meant to tell a story about the American middle class, the five study locations were selected due to the following broad factors: their national geographic distribution (to account for middle class views from the East, West, South, and the Middle of America); population size (to account for urban and rural differences); and similarity to national statistics, including factors like race/ethnicity, median income, education, and top industries.

Select a location below to learn more about why these particular locations were chosen for our study.


Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas, was selected because we wanted to include a city that could help to tell a story about middle-class Southern Black people. The city’s size was also important - we selected a large city to ensure there were enough middle-class Black Americans to participate in the focus groups.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, was selected due to its sizable Latino population, city size, and location in the western part of the country.

Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas, was chosen for two distinct reasons. First, it is unexpected. As a relatively small city in the middle of the country, there is not a lot of available research about their middle class. Second, and critically, according to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey, Wichita is demographically very similar to the U.S. overall (including on factors like: gender, ethnicity, marriage rates, and education).

Prince George’s County, Maryland

Our initial hope was to conduct focus groups with White and Black men in Central Pennsylvania. Due to difficulty in recruitment of middle-class Black men in Central Pennsylvania, we transitioned to hosting a focus group in Prince George’s County, which is known nationally for its concentration of Black wealth and thus made a suitable location for our middle-class Black male focus group.

Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Central Pennsylvania was one of the final locations selected. We chose this smaller, rural town as the previous 3 locations were larger and urban. Additionally, in order to reflect geographic diversity, we wanted a location that was in the East of the U.S., but not “coastal.”


Breakdown of Participant Demographics

We talked with 127 middle class participants across the twelve focus groups. Participants were required to 1) be a working-age adult (24-64 years old); 2) be middle-class (according to the middle 60% income range for their specific geographic location); 3) live in one of the five specific geographic areas; and 4) meet the race-gender specifications for the focus group in their area. Our final sample represented an income range of $22,900-$130,900 and encompassed a wide range of career fields including administrative assistance, health and social services, construction, teaching, service and hospitality, energy, technology, and law. The figures below present the breakdown of educational attainment, political views, and marital status of the focus group participants.