Report: How Wealthy Are You? What Britons Think of as “Rich”

What does “rich” mean to you? For some, it may be pretty simple — living a comfortably debt-free life, for instance. For others, it may be chasing a lifestyle with Made in Chelsea levels of excess.

Earlier in the year Indeed launched its online salary tool empowering jobseekers to research and compare workplace compensation. This set us to wondering about how people define what is to be “rich” in the UK today. To find out the answer, we conducted a survey to zoom in on precisely what Britons today mean when they use the word.

It turns out that “rich” can mean a lot of different things to different people, according to age and where they live — although 44% of everyone we surveyed agree that £80,000 is a fair benchmark to regard as a lot of lolly.

Let’s take a closer look at the our findings.

Generation gap: Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers have different takes on “rich”

Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, points out that considerations of what makes somebody minted varies considerably between baby boomers and millennials, reflecting their respective position at very different stages of the working career.

For instance, nearly 60% of millennials between the ages of 25-34 believe those with a salary capping out at £79,999 are rich — which means that all it takes to be loaded is to earn approximately three times the national average wage of £28,000.

On the other hand, only 35% of people 65 and older define the same wage range as rich. The majority of people in this age group (57%) set their sights considerably higher. For them a decent amount of dosh is somewhere in the range of £80,000 to £200,000, with an average of £144,429. This highlights the vastly different expectations between millennials early in their careers and baby boomers who have likely already experienced their peak salary.

Perhaps millennials aim lower because they are still at an age when many people have fewer commitments, or in the early stages of starting their families. By contrast, Gen Xers (aged 35-44) who are at the peak of their earning years and may have children about to enter university, have the highest expectations.

For this group, “rich” means an average wage of £158,056 — 5.6 times higher than the national average.

Great expectations

Where you live also has a big impact on what you consider to be loaded. These regional variations reflect differences in the cost of living across the UK.

For instance, people in the southeast won’t be satisfied with less than £162,844 as an average salary if they’re going to label it “rich.” Head slightly west to Wales, however, and you’ll find that the locals consider an average salary of £91,681 to be a tidy sum — which is 78% lower than the figure on the other side of the UK.

Given the high costs of living in the capital it’s no surprise that Londoners have high expectations — for then, an average wage of £149,180 is rich. London is also the best paid city in the UK — here 90% of people make over £80, 000. This is also what 44% of survey respondents said classified an individual as rich.

By contrast, the region with the largest gap between perception of what wealth is and actual wage levels is Yorkshire and Humberside. Here the locals say that a person needs £136,081 to be considered rich. Here, however, 90% of people are making £47,584 or less — less than a third of what the majority regard as loaded.

Unemployment may be low, but so are productivity and wages

With gaps between perception and reality as broad as those, it’s clear that you shouldn’t sit idly awaiting a salary increase.

According to Mariano Mamertino, the labour market is creating jobs at a steady rate and unemployment is at its lowest level for more than four decades. There’s just one snag: wages have stagnated and British output per worker continues to languish below international trends and far behind that of many other European countries.

Meanwhile, productivity across certain labour markets in the UK has dwindled, as those with jobs struggle to make ends meet the rising costs of living.

Are you making what you’re worth?

In today’s labour market and economy, it’s important for job seekers to do research to understand their value. Meanwhile, it’s important for employers to understand what constitutes a fair salary for the jobs they’re hiring for if they hope to attract — and retaining — top talent.

Here’s where Indeed’s salary tool comes in. With more than 450,000,000 data points, it can help you analyse average wages across regions, better understand your value, and identify opportunities to begin a salary conversation if you find yourself making below regional averages within your industry.

You may not attain Made in Chelsea levels of wealth, but forewarned is forearmed, as they say. The more you know, the better positioned you’ll be to land yourself a good wage!

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