Sixty Four Percent of Americans Have Money to Spend

Sixty Four Percent of Americans Have Money to Spend

With the week focused on shoppers, here's some information about spenders.

According to a report by The Conference Board, about 73 million US households now have discretionary (spendable) income, up from about 57 million in 2002. Total discretionary income in the US topped $1.7 trillion in 2006, with the household average at $24,335. Per capita income stood at $9,148.

Defined for the study, households with discretionary income are those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features. The proportion of the US population with discretionary income has increased to nearly 64%, up from 52% in 2002.

Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, notes that "While the percentage of households with discretionary income has risen over the past several years, purchasing power remains concentrated in the wallets of the affluent."

Nearly 78% of all discretionary income is held by households earning more than $100,000. Average discretionary income for this segment, $66,451, is 2.7 times the national average.

Discretionary Income Households

Total Households with Discretionary Income





Discretionary Income (current dollars)


$1,233.4 Billion


$1,768.7 Billion

Average Discretionary Income(current dollars)





Households With Discretionary Income(by HH income)

   $200k and over








   Under $50k


Source: Marketing Charts, November 2007

Highlights of The Conference Board report include:

  • The region with the wealthiest concentration of households is New England. About 63% of these households have discretionary income, with an average amount of $27,337.
  • Household discretionary income is lowest in the West North Central region. Average household discretionary income in the region is $20,749.
  • California, the most populous state, is also the state with the largest number of households with discretionary income: 8 million. These households hold $224.7 billion in total discretionary income.
  • Texas has the second-highest number of households with discretionary income  ofmore than 5 million, with $136.8 billion in total discretionary income.
  • Florida has almost 4.7 million households holding discretionary income of $126.1 billion, and New York has about 4.6 million households holding $119.4 billion in discretionary income.
  • The top end of the affluent group (≥ $200,000) accounts for only 3% of total households and 5% of households with discretionary income. This group, however, has 38% of total discretionary income with an average of $173,613 - more than seven times the national average.
  • Households with earnings under $50,000 account for nearly 60% of all households and 29% of households with discretionary income, but account for only 3% of aggregate discretionary income. Average discretionary income among this market is about $1,900.
  • Baby Boomers (1946 and 1964) have 43.7 million households, and more than two-thirds of Boomers have discretionary income, with the highest average discretionary income, at $29,754.
  • Two-thirds of Gen X-ers(1965 and 1981)  have discretionary income, and the second-highest average discretionary income, at $22,562.

For graphics and additional information, please visit Marketing Charts here.

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