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Americans Raise The Bar On How Much Income Makes You Wealthy

Friday, November 04, 2011

You need to earn a little bit more these days for your fellow Americans to regard you as “wealthy.”

Just 59% of Americans Adults now regard someone who earns $500,000 a year as wealthy, down from 67% who felt that way in March 2009.  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds instead that 29% now consider a person with that level of earnings to be “upper income,” compared to 21% in the previous survey. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Similarly, just 30% view someone who makes $250,000 a year to be wealthy, down seven points from 37% two-and-a-half years ago.  Unchanged are the 49% who say a person who earns that much annually is upper income. But now 13% believe that someone who earns $250,000 a year is “middle-income,” a view shared by just eight percent (8%) in the 2009 survey.

Tellingly, however, 35% of Democrats think a person who earns $250,000 a year is wealthy, but just 27% of Republicans and those not affiliated with either of the major parties agree.

President Obama and some congressional Democrats have been pushing to end the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, defining the wealthy as someone who earns $200,000 a year or a couple that earns $250,000 annually.

Only 11% of Americans say they have ever earned or are likely to earn $250,000 a year. Among those adults, 17% consider that income level to be wealthy, while 45% describe it as upper income and 28% as middle income.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 31-November 1, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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