Report: More Americans Have Discretionary Income

New York City, About 73 million U.S. households now have discretionary income, up from about 57 million in 2002, according to a report by The Conference Board. The percent of the U.S. population with discretionary income has increased to nearly 64%, up from 52% in 2002.

Total discretionary income in the U.S. topped $1.7 trillion in 2006, with the household average at $24,335. Per capita income stood at $9,148.

Households with discretionary income, as defined by the study, are those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features.

The top end of the affluent group (households with earnings of $200,000 and over) 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 of less than $50,000 represent nearly 60% of all households and 29% of households with discretionary income. However, they account for only 3% of aggregate discretionary income. Average discretionary income among this market is about $1,900.

In terms of generations, the baby-boomer generation (born 1946 to 1964) has the highest discretionary income, at $29,754.