How wealthy does someone have to be to qualify as “rich” in America? Not too much, according to a new poll by Gallup. The data shows that Americans, who the government says have a median household income nationwide of about $50,000, believe that what many would consider a modest wage—$250,000—is more than enough money to lead “a very good life.”
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Does this mean that American aspirations about income have fallen?
Gallup reports that:
Americans say they would need to earn a median of $150,000 a year to consider themselves rich. Separately, 50% say they would need $1 million or more in savings and investments to consider themselves rich.
It may be that at a time when median income has not risen on a real basis for a decade, the threshold of what’s considered “wealth” is not in the millions of dollars. And, in a time when many Americans do not have retirement funds, a nest egg that might only yield $40,000 to $50,000 a year on a $1 million principal in enough for the aged to live on. With many people over 65 continuing to work, that level of income may seem indeed high.
Gallup’s research report on wealth adds:
Americans’ perceptions of the annual income they need to be rich are a bit higher than in 2003, when Gallup last asked the question. Then, $120,000 a year was the median amount Americans said they would need to make in order to think of themselves as rich.
Since real wages have not moved at all since 2003, and the recession may have eroded income or robbed people of jobs, the fact that there is no change makes sense.
If they do, then they might as well forget about the idea of owning a $500,000 house with two cars in the garage. Apparently, that type of thinking is well beyond the grasp of most Americans, and the economy may keep it that way for years.
[Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2011, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.]
(24/7 Wall St./The Blaze)