Wealthy Americans have a lot more spending cash these days.

A recent tally estimates that about 73 million U.S. households have discretionary income. That’s up from about 57 million during 2002, according to statistics from The Conference Board.

But, nearly 78 percent of all that discretionary income is held by households earning more than $100,000, and their average annual discretionary budget of $66,451 is almost three times the national average.

“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,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “More than three out of every four discretionary dollars flows to householders earning $100,000 or more.”

The percent of the overall U.S. population with discretionary income has increased to nearly 64 percent, up from 52 percent in 2002.

The survey defined households with discretionary income as those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features.

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The region with the wealthiest concentration of households is New England, where nearly 63 percent of households have an average discretionary income of $27,337.

The region with the lowest amount of discretionary income is West North Central region – Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota – where the average discretionary income is $20,749.


  1. Unfortunately, discretionary income information about Coloradoans was not listed in the limited information The Conference Board released to the press. However, I can tell you from my very own personal, myopic perspective that it ain’t much.

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