Some 57 million U.S. households now enjoy discretionary income, up from nearly 54 million in 1997-98, according to new research by The Conference Board. Total U.S. discretionary income exceeds $1.2 trillion, but the percentage of Americans with such income slipped to 51 percent, from 52 percent six years ago. (Households with discretionary income are those whose "spendable income"—money available after taxes—exceeds that held by households with similar demographics.)
The Conference Board also found that 82 percent of discretionary income is held by those earning $100,000 or more, signaling a favorable outlook for the luxury, travel and entertainment markets as well as the furnishing and housing industries. The average amount of available money for this segment is $62,110, nearly three times above the national average of $21,657.
Households in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania rank tops in per capita discretionary income; those in the West North Central region (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas) are lowest.