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Does America truly have a middle class these days?

Setting aside that question for economists to ponder, a recent ranking said middle-class earners looking for a welcoming home would be wise to consider Elizabethtown.

The study by Simply Thrifty Living, a group describing itself as everyday consumers, ranks Elizabethtown third in Kentucky among best places to live for middle class families. Of the 45 communities ranked, only Lexington-Fayette County and the Jefferson County affluent suburb of Lyndon scored higher.

It's never clear how to assess the value of these rankings -- except the value of generating attention for the websites creating the list. But, of course, it's always uplifting to be affirmed and highly regarded by others.

In this case, Simply Thrifty Living makes the case that a big consideration for middle-class families is where they choose to live.

The site's introduction to the state-by-state survey results said: "The socioeconomic characteristics of a city can have a significant effect on those who live there, and these factors are even more important for a family unit -- as opposed to a single individual. With that in mind, we decided to take a deeper look into which areas of the U.S. are ideal for families in the middle class. We created a comprehensive, nationwide resource that shows which cities in each state are the best for middle class families."

Simply Thrifty Living said its assessment was based on seven factors: income, real estate taxes, home value, unemployment, college education, school and job availability. Each was scored based on data extracted from the Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey.

Ranking each category on a 10-point scale, Elizabethtown's 9.74 in the income category was the city's highest tally and the No. 1 overall income score in the state. That's also pretty impressive and surprising based on the per­cep­tions about larger metropolitan areas such as Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.

Radcliff finished in the middle third of the Ken­tucky rankings and was well above Owens­boro and Bardstown, for instance, which typical score well in other surveys about quality of place.

These studies only are as good as the numbers and the analysis.

Bottom line: Home is what we make it. If you're happy where you are and a study or survey affirms it, enjoy the recognition. If you're happy and the study doesn't reflect your feelings, so be it.

On the other hand, if you're unhappy stay away from these rankings because the debates surrounding them can inflame negative feelings.

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