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Keeping up with the Henrys

Henrys -- High Earners, Not Rich Yet – account for 40% of U.S. consumer spending. They shop at places like Banana Republic or Bloomingdales, but probably not at Barneys. And just when the economy needs them, Henrys are nervous.

Kai Ryssdal: There was a time in our lives when my wife and I were DINKs -- double income, no kids. Also, yuppies -- young upwardly mobile urban professionals. Today, sad to say, I learned I've become a HENRY -- high earner, not rich yet. Apparently I'm behind the times. Henrys have been around for a while -- 2003 is when the term first appeared, but it's coming back into vogue as the economy tries to get itself going.

Marketplace's Sally Herships has more.


Sally Herships: Pam Danziger is president of Unity Marketing. Her company  researchers the spending habits of high-end consumers. So she’s very friendly with the Henrys.

Pam Danzinger: The term Henrys -- H-E-N-R-Y -- stands for high earners, not rich yet.

If you're a Henry -- and 20 percent of Americans are -- it means you earn about $100,000 to $250,000 a year. You're probably married. And you're shopping at Banana Republic or Bloomingdales, but probably not at Barneys. Henrys spend a lot.

Danzinger: They account for more than 40 percent of all total U.S. consumer spending. So they’re the heavy lifters in the economy.

And retailers are relying on them more ever. Carl Obermiller teaches marketing at Seattle University's Albers School of Business. He says the middle class and the poor don't have as much spending power as the Henrys and the rich are scaling back.

Carl Obermiller: The rich have a lot of money to spend too, but the rich have already spent a lot of what they're going to spend their money on.

Back in 2011 there was a huge spike in spending by the ultra rich. It was pent-up demand after the recession. But just when the Henrys are needed, they're nervous. There's the shaky stock market and fears of a global recession.

Obermiller: When the economy goes up they tend to be confident and buoyed by tha and when the economy goes down they tend to be threatened by that.

That's why Pam Danzinger says the Henrys spending is only slowly creeping up. But at least they don't have it as bad as the SITCOMs -- that's single-income, two children and oppressive mortgage.

In New York, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.
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Demographics of affluence are well defined, but not widely understood. Affluence describes the top 20% of U.S. households defined by income, which today starts at about $100,000 (note: this is household income, not individual income). Within that top 20%, there are two income sub-segments, HENRYs with household incomes $100k-$249.9k and Ultra-affluents, HHI $250,000+. Then above that is the 1% which starts at about $380,000. If you want to learn more about the demographics of affluence, I recommend my book, Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury.

For those of us divorced and paying spousal support, how about "Single Paycheck AND an EX"?

Let us not forget the LICSU - low-income, can't save, uninsured

Policymakers should beware of TOCDORs, Tired Old Curmudgeons Dreaming of Retirement. Mess with Medicare or Social Security and learn what vengeance really means.

How about "THOMAS"? for THrifty Organized Methodical Anti-debt-Saver. If you are a THOMAS, you don't need to depend on others to bring you out of any recession, though I am fully aware that if we are all THOMAS, then the economy will collapsed. But, I rather be a THOMAS than a LISA.

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What a great one! I was thinking about MISS, middle income super saver. I am a combination of Clark Howard, Dave Ramsey, Marketplace and the WSJ. I feel for those hit hard due to our great resession or their own actions....

What I am now that's to the banking fiasco is a WHENS - was a high earner now struggling

On today's broadcast (not in the text here) someone asked about happily retired cheapskates. Speaking as one such, I'd go for

Most Income Saved, Exceptionally Relaxed.

Just heard a new one. LISA Low Income Spending Addiction. Would that be the group that accounts for 80% of US consumer debt?

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