New York (Oct. 24, 2003) -- Despite the roller-coaster economy, the number of families earning at least $100,000 is expected to jump from 15 million to 20 million by 2010, The Conference Board reported in a study released Thursday.

Affluent households account for about 14 percent of all homes in the U.S., up from 9 million households in 1990. By 2010, the expected 20 million affluent households will have spending power of more than $3.5 trillion, the board projected.

"Over the past twenty years, America's middle and lower-income classes have slowly been working their way into the ranks of the well-to-do," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "As the country steadily moves toward a more top-heavy income society, average household earnings will top $63,500 in 2010, up from about $50,000 in 1990."

The median net worth of the average affluent family grew 69 percent between 1998 and 2001, while the average U.S. household's net worth in the same period rose only 10 percent. Stock market losses have cut into many families' savings, but strong income gains made from 1998 to 2001 have not been completely erased, the study found. Also: appreciation in home values over the past several years has helped offset losses in the financial markets, a strong reason America's affluent remain in good financial shape

-- WebCPA staff

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