One in six married parents made 200k/yr or more in 2018

As ever, fresh from the ACS 2018 1-year estimates.

One in eight make 150-199k per year.

So for 2018, over a quarter of married parents of minor children had household incomes of 150k or higher.

The group for $100-149,999 per year, ticked up to 24% of all married parents from 23% in 2017.

In short, 51% of married parents made 100k a year or more as a household in 2018.

The 50-99k pool of married parents is still about 1/3, but just barely at 32% in 2018.  It’s evenly split between households making 50-74k and those making 75-99k.

The downward trend continues for married parents with household income of 49k per year or lower.  Only about 1/6 of all married parents fall into this range.  And yes, you’ll note it’s about the same as the total pool of 200k+ households.

Eight years ago in 2010, the breakdown was very different, even though the number of married parent couples was about the same (a bit under 23m instead of a bit more than 22m)

200k- 7% nationally

150-199k- 7.5% nationally

100-149k- 20% nationally

50k-99k- 37.5% nationally

49k or lower-28% nationally

For 2018 67% or 2/3 of all married parents had household incomes of 75k per year or higher.   

We’re in for a rocky ride for 2019 and 2020.  We’ll likely see 70% of married parents above 75k in 2019’s numbers and then the year after that a drop (but not a very big one, married parents weren’t the ones bodyslammed by job losses from the economy stoppages related to Wuhan coronavirus), but the family median will plunge, as solo parent families took it on the chin very hard.  Trends continue until they don’t and black swans are notable for their recurrence and their rarity.

Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.

“We have to destroy the married family to save the married family”

That is my take on this post from Audacious Epigone.  The post is a discussion of a “comment of the week” from one of his commenters.  It mostly talks about the au courant notion of a coming asset crash, almost with a sort of glee.  The same commenter makes the following remark in the comment thread for the post:

The plutocrats and the upper middle class and the government workers will be wiped out when the currency collapse wipes out the debt.

Problem for the commenter and perhaps even Mr. Epigone is that the three groups mentioned constitute the bulk of married parents of children under 18, married couples in general and a substantial minority of cohabiting/single parents of children under 18.  That is to say, such a crash will wipe out the very people having the children right now.  One can argue about whether they’re doing a good job with the kids or having a sufficiency of them (after all, I certainly spend plenty of time on such topics, lol), but at some point, the right (whether its more dissident side or its more mainstream sides who frankly share similar views about asset bubbles and crashes) needs to grasp that the “rich” or “affluent” or “upper income households” or “the government types” make up the mothers and fathers of most of our children.

The right has to stop hoping for the dissolution of 10-15 million married parent families, of a million solo/cohabiting families and of 20-30 million married couple families with no under-18s at home.  That is what would happen if these dreams of a big asset crash or currency collapse come true in the next few years.  It won’t punish your political enemies, unless now everyone who got married before having kids or at least made 75k+/yr first (cohabiting high earners and increasingly some of the high earning solo parents) is your “political enemy”.

Even many lower-earning family households are reliant on profit shares, bonuses based on company performance, and market returns on endowed funds for the nonprofits or educational institutions they are employed with.

I’m not saying no crash or collapse will happen.  It could, for all we know.  But I am saying that the right should be promoting how to cramdown debt for such households, and how to claw back bigger shares of equity and company profits for the class of people producing our future taxpayers and future at all, and who have been converted by the actual elites into a dependent wage-earning class.

In other words, the right should be acting like it understands the changes in the demographic makeup of married families, that they are mostly college educated, mostly 1 to 1.5-earner households and that the “top of the bottom” for married parents is essentially the median household income.  That is, making the median household income (63k in 2019) for married parents is around the 25-26th percentile (as of 2018) for their 22-23 million strong pool of households.

Also, as I already alluded to, many of these households do NOT have mom working full-time outside the home, and in fact much of the increase in double-income parent households has happened in the 25th-50th percentiles, while higher income households in the top half of married parents are continuing to see women exit full-time and frequently any paid employment during elementary and secondary school years.  So maybe it’s time for some new narratives.