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Breaking into the middle class in New York State requires some big bucks — as soaring levels of inflation and lagging wage growth have driven up the cost of living.

The minimum annual income required for a family of four to be considered part of the middle class in the Empire State soared to $81,396 in 2023, according to the Pew Research Center and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s roughly $7,000 more than it was for a couple with two kids in 2022, when the minimum income was $74,908 — and about $20,000 higher than $60,328 it took to live a middle class life in 2016.

Meanwhile, joining the middle class in the Big Apple came at an even steeper price last year: a minimum annual income of $318, 406, according to separate study by SmartAsset.

“It’s scary,” David Delisle, a financial literacy expert and author of “The Golden Quest: Your Journey to a Rich Life,” told The Post.

“Housing has gotten expensive for most people and that’s causing a bigger and bigger gap.”

Delisle pointed to the record levels of inflation, which has skyrocketed 17% since President Joe Biden took office, for shrinking the middle class nationwide.

“Incomes haven’t kept up with inflation in the same way we’ve seen all these other costs go up,” Delisle said.

New York State’s minimum income in 2023 left it just behind Hawaii, where a family of four needed $82,630 to be considered middle class.

The District of Columbia tied New York State, which was slightly more expensive than neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut.

By comparison, the nation’s median household income for a family of four to be considered middle class was $70,784 in 2021, according to census data.

The states with the lowest income to qualify as middle class were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia and Mississippi.

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A family of four living in Mississippi needed to earn $60,431.

In 2022, Pew Research Center conducted a study which found that the share of American adults that could be considered middle class decreased considerably in the five decades between 1971 and 2021.

Fifty years ago, 61% of US adults were in the middle class while just 14% were in the upper income tier.

In 2021, however, the number of adults who were considered middle class fell to 50%, while those in the upper income tier increased to 21%.

The study found that there was also a greater share of those in the lower income bracket — 29% in 2021 compared to 25% in 1971.

Meanwhile, the wealthy have gotten wealthier at a more rapid pace than those in the middle and lower income classes, according to the study.

The median income for higher tier households rose 69% from 1970 ($130,008) to 2020 ($219,572), according to Pew.

For middle income households, their median income rose 50% — from $59,934 in 1970 to $90,131 in 2020.

The lower income households saw their incomes rise 45% — from $20,604 in 1970 to $29,963 in 2020.

If current trends persist, the middle class could shrink even more.

“If we don’t have that middle class everything is out of whack and unsustainable,” Delisle said.

“We’ll have people who can’t afford to live and people who have more money than they know what to do with.”

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