By any historical standards … all Americans are simply hugely, gargantuanly, richer than any but the fewest, most privileged, of our forefathers.
What should really leap out at you is how poor the past actually was. England in 1600 AD was at $1,000 a year. So, a little over 1.5 times what it is like to be in the poorest country in the world right now, that CAR. China was at this level in 1978: just goes to show you what an idiocy Maoist economics was. But note that this runs the other way too: the American living standard of today is about 50 times what it was in 1600 England, or 1978 China.
As Brad Delong has mordantly pointed out more than once, historical living standards never fell very far below that $600 a year for very long, because if they do then they become dying standards, not living ones. People just don’t survive on less than that. And it was Thomas Malthus who pointed out that, before about 1700 or so, living standards never rose very far above that level for very long. Simply because they were subsistence economies: a little bit more wealth meant more food, that meant more children survived and the result of any technological advance was just more people at the same standard of living a few decades later.
My own rule of thumb is that when people talk of “poverty” in America I ignore them. Because that’s one problem that we have absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever, actually beaten.
The video below describes the ‘hockey stick’ of wealth. You can see just how wealthy we are today.