This post is by M. Jed:
The Conference Board, a non-profit research group whose output includes the Consumer Confidence Index and Leading Economic Indicators reported earlier this month that the percentage of households with discretionary income (as defined by the study, are those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features) has increased to 63.5% in 2006 from 52.1% in 2002.
In January 2005, the Conference Board reported for the 2003/2004 period that the percentage of the American population with discretionary income had edged down to 51 percent, compared with 52 percent six years ago.
From March 1983 to March 1987, the number of households with discretionary income rose from 28 percent to 29 percent of households.
From 2003/2004-2006, nominal average discretionary income increased 12.4% overall, but only increased 7% for the segment earning $100,000 or more (the latter is potentially attributable to either slower growth of the existing segment, or a large number of new households at the lower end that keep the average from growing, or a combination of the two). From 1997/1998-2003/2004 nominal average discretionary income increased 27.4%, but decreased 8.6% for the segment earning $100,000 or more.
2006 – Average discretionary income for [households earning more than $100,000 of] $66,451 is 2.7 times the national average.
2003/2004 – Average discretionary income for [households earning more than $100,000], – $62,110 – is nearly three times above the U.S. average of $21,657.
1997/1998 – [T]he Conference Board . . . finds that average discretionary income among such affluent households [those earning more than $100,000] exceeds $68,000 — nearly four times the U.S. average. . . . The study uses 1997 and 1998 data and defines discretionary income as income that is above median expenditure levels for similar households. The last time the study was done, in 1993, it used different criteria, but found that the affluent had three times as much discretionary income.
This post was by M. Jed.