Dennis Cauchon, writing in USA Today, asks “Our Standard of Living: Is it Better than Ever?” He points out that our income today is significantly higher than it was in 1980, that our homes are bigger, that we are expected to live longer, and that we spend more of our income [inflation adjusted] on recreation, housing, vehicles, etc.
But here is the other side of the equation. According to the accompanying USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,032 adults nationwide . . . “only 31% of Americans thought they could live comfortably for less than $50,000 [income] a year . . . .” If this is true, there may be a whole lot of people who are not in the “living comfortable” category. Today the median household annual income in the U.S. is just over $50,000. So one-half of the approximately 115M households (57.5M) already makes less than that amount. At best, even if the 21.8M who say they can’t live comfortably given this income all come from the under $50,000 category, it is still translates into a lot of dissatisfaction.
Also the article reported that 24% would need an income of $100,000 or more to make them comfortable. Only about 16% of the households in America have annual incomes of $100,000 or more. Translated, at a very minimum, there are over 9M people who need to have an income in this category to be comfortable but don’t.
Contrast these results with 1,138,000 millionaires [28.3% of total] who live in homes valued at under $300,000. More than 90% live comfortably. And most say that comfort is more a function of their net worth and living well below their means than the incomes they generate.