Can Millennials Still Become Millionaires?

During the last few months, the president and Congress had a heated debate about the definition of affluence and who should have to pay more taxes. Ultimately, the opposing sides decided that anyone earning more than $400,000 would be subjected to higher tax rates, the implication being that this group has the financial wherewithal to pay more. However, the decision about who is really rich is much more subjective.

Recently, the Census Bureau stratified the income levels in the U.S. About 46 million people, or 15% of the population live below the poverty level, or the income needed to barely survive. The poverty level is dependent upon a number of factors and was set at $23,050 for a family of four.

Lower middle class workers have incomes that fall between $32,500 and $60,000. Upper middle class workers often have income above $100,000, which comprises the top third of American incomes.

The next level of income is the 5% of Americans earning more than $150,000 annually. At the top of the economic ladder is the 1% who can earn more than $250,000.

A 1996 article published in the New York Times titled “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealth”  is a slightly outdated but interesting review of the profile of millionaires. Some of the observations in the article follow.

- Most are men aged 57 years, married with three children.

- One in five is retired. Two-thirds are self-employed. Self-employed people make up less than 20% of all workers, but account for two-thirds of the millionaires. Most are professionals, such as doctors and accountants.

- Many are involved in mundane and very unexciting businesses.

- Half of the wives of millionaires do not work. The No. 1 occupation for wives is teacher.

- The median income is $131,000, and average income is $247,000 (the higher earning millionaires skew this number). Eight percent have incomes between $500-999,999, and 5% have income over $1 million.

- Average household net worth is $3.7 million. Six percent have more than $10 million. The median is $1.6 million (this number is skewed by high earners as well).

- On average, total annual income is less than 7% of total wealth.

- 97% are homeowners.

- 80% are first generation affluent 

My question is whether millennials have a fair chance at becoming millionaires during their lifetimes. Are higher tax rates, redistribution of wealth, increased class warfare, and lower levels of business confidence throughout the country going to decrease the odds that young people will achieve the wealth levels of former generations?

Related questions are: Will millennials be able to buy a home? Will educational costs suppress the accumulation of wealth? Do millennials really want to accumulate wealth or are they focused on more esoteric career paths? How many millennials will become millionaires by default inheriting significant sums from their parents?

Time will tell. In the meantime, I have accumulated three lists, which should help young people make decisions, if salary is an important criterion in their selection of a career. The first is a Bureau of Labor Statistics list of all jobs that pay more than $100,000. Actually, the reference lists all jobs; I extracted those over the aforementioned level. The second  is a list of top paying jobs with medium and top pay levels. The third is the highest paying jobs along with training time for each career. The information comes from three diverse sources, so that there are some inconsistencies relating to job specifications, etc.

Good luck in your job hunt. I hope you all make a lot of money in careers that fulfill your ambitions and dreams.

Bureau of Labor  Statistics (in thousands)

Positions

 Employed

 Annual Mean Wage

All Occupations

 128,278

 45

Anesthesiologist

 33

 234

Surgeon

 42

 231

OBGYN

 21

 218

Orthodontist

 5

 204

Internist

 47

 185

Physician, all other

 305

 184

Doctor, Family Gen Prac

 101

 177

Chief Exec

 267

 176

Pediatrician

 23

 174

Dentist, all other

 5

 168

Dentist, Gen

 91

 161

Petroleum Eng

 30

 139

Podiatrist

 9

 133

Lawyer

 570

 130

Arch and Eng Mgr

 184

 129

Comp Inf Mgr

 300

 126

Natural Science Mgr

 47

 126

Ind Org Psych

 1

 124

Financial Mgr

 477

 120

Sales Mgr

 328

 116

Gen Ops Mgr

 1,805

 114

Air Traf Contr

 24

 114

Physicist

 16

 112

Pharmacist

 272

 112

Judge

 26

 110

Law Teacher

 15

 108

Optometrist

 28

 107

HR Mgr

 82

 106

Public Relations Mgr

 53

 105

Nulcear Eng

 18

 105

Political Sci

 5

 105

Mgrs all other areas

 343

 104

Adv Mgr

 30

 103

Purchasing Mgr

 67

 103

Acturary

 20

 103

Aerospace Eng.

 79

 103

Comp Mgr

 25

 101

Mathemetician

 3

 101

Computer Hardware Eng

 72

 101

Astronomer

 2

 101

Softwear Dev

 387

 100

Economist

 14

 100

Top Paying Jobs

Positions     -       Median Income ($100,000)   -    Top Pay

Neurosurgeon         368                 643

Petroleum Eng        162                 265

Nurse Anesth         159                  205

Petroleum Geo       149                  247

Dentist                  147                  253

Actuary                 136                  208

Software Arch        119                  162

Pharmacist            114                  133

Mgt Consult           110                  198

SAP Basis Adm      107                  160

Optometrist          105                  149

IT Security Cons    102                  156

Highest Paying Jobs

Positions            Highest Salary ($100,000)      Training Time (yrs)

Surgeon              181                  10-15

CEO                  140                  varies

Eng Mgr            140                  6-7

Airline Pilot        134                  5-10

Dentist             132                  8

Lawyer             110                  7

Air Traf Contr    100                  9

Comp Info Mgr  100                  4-8

Mkt Mgr            100                  4-6

Natural Sci Mgr   97                   6

Note: The desirability of these positions is greatly impacted by any number of other considerations. Off hand, I can think of the following: side benefits, location, deferred compensation such as stock options, etc.