From retail workers and customer service representatives to IT professionals and surgeons, most U.S. residents say they need an annual salary of about $100,000 in order to be happy, according to a recent study from Moneyzine.com.
However, the median income in the U.S. is around $31,000, the report said, which means that most people earn about a third of what they think they should be paid.
Moneyzine surveyed 1,200 Americans with an average age of 40 about how much income they would need to be satisfied, as well as the things they sacrifice to make their money go further. Among respondents, 61% were men, 36% were women and 3% identified as non-binary or other.
Researchers used publicly available wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to make comparisons between desired income and actual income across 15 different industries.
The average income workers across the 15 industries reported they needed to be satisfied with their jobs was $96,303. Workers in the retail sector experience the biggest disconnect between actual income and the income they believe would keep them happy in their jobs — they’re making just one-quarter of the incomes they believe they need to be happy. It’s not surprising that the turnover rate among retail workers in the U.S. is 60.5%.
At the other end of the spectrum, doctors, lawyers and engineers reported that they could earn 84% of their current income and still be happy.
The average income across all 50 states that respondents reported needing to be happy was $94,696. But the reported necessary income to be happy and satisfied does not directly correlate with the local cost of living, according to the report.
Two of the most expensive states also had the highest desired incomes, while two even more expensive ones came in slightly over average at $130,000. Delaware and New Hampshire, the two least-needy states, both had incomes below $50,000 required for workers to be satisfied with their paychecks.
The study found that the average American requires 150% of their current income in order to be content. Here’s what survey respondents said they are doing to achieve financial stability:
Avoiding vacations: 73%
Avoiding social outings: 67%
Forgoing weddings, birthdays or anniversaries: 58%
Working a second job: 57%
Postponing buying a house: 56%
Getting rid of their car: 56%
Skipping or postponing medical and dental treatments: 51%
Skipping or postponing mental health treatments: 45%
Postponing having children: 42%
Postponing marriage: 38%
See the gallery for the 12 states where it takes the most income for residents to be happy, according to Moneyzine.