In a ranking of the best 45 Kentucky cities for middle-class families released this week, 19 towns rated higher than Frankfort, which placed well down the list in 20th.

While the U.S. government doesn’t have a specific definition for middle class, the Pew Research Center defines it as those earning 67% to 200% of the median household income, or those making $41,119 to $122,744. The majority of U.S. families — 52% — fall in this category.

The research, which considered the socioeconomic characteristics of each city, including scores for income, real estate taxes, home value, unemployment, college education, schools and job availability, was published at SimpleThriftyLiving.com by a panel of experts who collected the data.

Scores of median household incomes of each city were based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. Scores for real estate taxes, home value, unemployment and college education were also compiled using Census Bureau numbers.

The information for schools is based on student performance and state test scores from homes.com. The higher the number, the better the school score. The job availability data, which examines the number of open job positions within a 10-mile radius, was collected from indeed.com.

In the Bluegrass State rankings, Lexington-Fayette took top honors — helped mostly by its high percentage of college-educated adults (41.8%) and a high job availability score (8.63). Lyndon, Elizabethtown, Versailles and St. Matthews rounded out the top five. Neighboring communities Georgetown (18th), Shelbyville (26th) and Lawrenceburg (31st) were also ranked.

In the middle of the pack, the capital city received strong scores in income and unemployment but fell flat in the college-educated adult (28.7%), schools (2.25) and job availability (1.40) categories.

The numbers illustrate an opportunity for Frankfort to increase its appeal to middle-class families who can be the backbone of a strong community. It’s difficult to sell a city with low education and career availability scores to such families. In fact, schools and jobs are two of the top criteria potential residents consider when deciding where to relocate. Those who truly want Frankfort to flourish recognize the need to address both issues sooner rather than later.

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