You know what your salary means to you. But sometimes, it’s a good idea to step back and see how others perceive you so that everything’s in context.
A recent survey by YouGov gives you the opportunity to do just that. Instead of looking at arbitrary financial representations, the international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm asked Americans the earnings levels they actually associated with poverty or wealth. And the threshold to be considered rich may be lower than you think.
Poverty in America
Americans seemed to agree that people making less than $30,000 a year are poor. 76% of respondents thought those who only made $10,000 a year were living in poverty, and 55% still thought that was true of those making $20,000 a year.
But workers earning $30,000 a year was considered better off — only 32% of respondents thought that bracket was impoverished. This cut off makes sense; according to the report, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the median annual personal income in 2016 was $31,099.
Notably, $30,000 is almost double what a person making minimum wage could expect if they worked 40 hours a week. 68% of respondents thought someone under these circumstances — making $15,080 a year — was poor.
Not everyone is either rich or poor, and Americans seem to be able to appreciate the gray area. According to the report, people in income brackets between $40,000 and $80,000 were seen by the majority of respondents to be “neither rich nor poor,” but somewhere in the middle.
Perhaps the best testament to this category is data about those who make $40,000 a year. Sixty-six percent of respondents thought Americans with that level of earnings were neither rich nor poor. Only 8% thought they were poor — a dramatic drop from the nearly one-in-three from the $30,000 bracket — yet a mere 15% thought they were rich (11% weren’t sure).
Are you one of the rich ones?
Americans seem to believe that people earning between $90,000 and $100,000 a year are rich. Forty-four percent think that those making $90,000 are among the wealthy few, while 56% say they feel the same about someone earning $100,000 a year.
And sure, that’s a lot of dough. But not everyone’s in agreement. Specifically, those who actually make $90,000-$150,000 don’t tend to see themselves as wealthy. Only 9% of respondents in that income bracket said they personally were rich. That’s compared to 2% of people making less than $20,000 who said the same thing about themselves.
So what’s the takeaway? Well, even if you don’t think you’re making all that much, a lot of America thinks you’re doing pretty well for yourself if your earnings are more than the median annual personal income. Especially if you’re sitting comfortably at $100K a year, you’ve hit the big leagues. And while it’s okay to want more, maybe take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You’re doing good, kid.