Probably not, according to this report. Your family probably has a higher income, but that’s because more families have two wage earners. The median thirtysomething man is earning 12% less than a man of his father’s generation did at the same age.



Update: Commentator Michael Krauss asks if these numbers are inflation adjusted. They are. As far as I can tell, the paper’s researchers use the standard consumer price index, not the so-called “core” CPI that excludes food and energy. You don’t usually see core CPI used for long-term comparisons like this one.

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Posted by patregnier 12:17 pm 54 Comments comment | Add a comment

My husband I fall smack dab in the educated middle class segment. We both work a 40 hour work week in white collar jobs, and make about $75k/yr combined in Chicago suburbs. Neither of our sets of parents are college educated - his father works for a gas company doing labor, my father in a steel manufacturing company. Now, both of our fathers work long work weeks, over 60 hours per week, and have been at the same companies for 20+ years, so they work hard and long to make much more money than my husband and I. However, it’s not to say that my husband and I are doing badly - everyone talks about home prices and cost of living, but my husband and I save $350/month besides our 401k savings, we bought our first house this year (me at age 22, him at 25, we had to commute longer to work but it’s worth it to get in the market early), and we’re both going back to graduate school. We’re going to work hard but not at the expense of enjoying life. We look at our parents and see how tired they after all these years of working - was it really worth it? Sure, I’d love more money but I’d hate a 60 hour workweek.

I think by the time I’m in my 30s, I’ll be seeing a higher income, but it’s so hard to compare life in the 70s with life now. Priorities, and life, have changed.

Posted By Jenni, Chicago, IL : June 14, 2007 10:07 am

Ya, Mike your a jerk. Who cares about your 5 million a year. Is that what you tell women because you have no game? Your probably an old fat bald guy…Id def. rather be 25, make 1/25 of what you make, and get 25 times as many women. Seriously, stop projecting your insecurity/mid-life crisis on us “por”people.

Posted By RUNNER, Miami, FL : June 7, 2007 3:30 pm

This study calls into question whether or not this is in fact a meritocratic society. It has nothing to do with how industrious or not 30-something US males were in 2004 compared to their fathers at the same age. If anything, it should dispel the slacker stereotype.

Posted By Dan, Turnersville NJ : June 5, 2007 7:44 pm

This is all predicated upon how one defines success for themselves, how one defines “doing better than one’s father.” If one defines success by a numerical value, attaining certain material assets by certain milestone ages, then no, I’m not doing better than my father. But if you’re talking about opportunities available to me as a person of color or the ability to chart my own course because society is a bit more open, then yes I am doing better than my father. As a woman of color, the moment I was born (1972), the opportunities available to me were well in excess of what they were when my parents were born. The Boomer generation did change the game for Gen-X in terms of opening up numerous career and financial possibilities. What’s unfortunate is that Gen-X is still being graded by what was considered traditional in the 1960s and 1970s. Until the “grading criteria” changes, Gen-X will ALWAYZ been seen as slackers by prior and successive generations.

Posted By Danielle B., Fort Worth, TX : June 4, 2007 12:44 pm

The American populace is being “adjusted” to accepting lower income by the powers that be. The media reports that competition is the reason. The real reason is that politicians don’t care about the people. There would be no lotteries if politicians cared about the people. And immigration would be controlled by fines on the wealthy people who hire illegals. Lotteries and illegal workers are two plans the existing government uses to stop low wage workers from protesting. Until the media start talking about this, the voters won’t know.

Posted By Dave Butz Wayne MI : June 3, 2007 10:12 pm

There is no blame in my post. I think competition from working women is good. Anyone who has taken ECON 101 understands that increased supply (labor) decreases price (wages). The labor force has nearly doubled (on a per capita baisis) since the 1970’s as a result of female labor. Meanwhile, boomers (the largest generation in US Hhistory) are staying on the job much later in life. These two factors have a much (10x) greater impact on wages then the boogyman that is “outsourcing”. Keep blaming “outsourcing” if you want but that is really not the problem.

Posted By Ben Cherry Creek Colorado : May 30, 2007 3:07 pm

Don’t blame the change on women entering the workforce, blame it on foreign outsourcing, high debt from educational loans, over-inflated mortgages, and energy increases.

Posted By vivian, Chicago, IL : May 30, 2007 11:22 am

I’m a little disgusted after reading some of these posts and how elitist some of these people are. I am a college educated professional in my 30’s and I don’t make what my father did. I think more educated middle-class people need to read these articles and respond to them. How do companies justify record profits and paying 1 CEO more than 1 billion a year according to 1 article I read and paying their employees (without whom the company would not exist) garbage? Also, raises I’ve received are less than the rate of inflation, but yet companies call them ‘cost of living’ increases.

Posted By Daniel, Bethlehem PA : May 30, 2007 9:42 am

Twenty years ago, the new promising job field was “Information Technology”, and for a brief 10 years during the 90’s, some of us I.T. people who went to school, worked hard and became professionals/specialists actually earned a decent salary. Now with corporations and special interest groups whining to the Feds that we have a shortage of IT people, the market has been flooded by H1B visas coming from everywhere. Now it’s 2007 and it’s almost impossible to find a good I.T. job at a wage comparable to what one would have made ten years ago. Everything has been offshored, and those remaining I.T. jobs here in the U.S. are sucked up by H1B’s willing to float from city to city, apartment to apartment for their next “gig” while they send their wages back to their homeland. So much for raising a family, and the “American Dream”. I suppose the only way to survive now in the U.S. is if you are an attorney, or in sales…

Posted By disillusioned, Chicago IL : May 30, 2007 9:25 am

My father owned his own construction company and had no college degree. I have a college degree and make close to six figures in a sales role, but I do not feel I am able to make the amount of money he did. With more people and more competition, I doubt I will make half of the money in my life that he did during the sixties and seventies. That doesn’t mean that I will give up, though!

Posted By JB, Greenville, SC : May 29, 2007 3:22 pm

I am much better off financially than my parents were. I’m making 3x more than either of them did at the peak of their earnings and I still have 30 more years to go. I own 2 houses and a large 401k - my parents own nothing and saved nothing. Neither had a college degree; I do which I got by working 60 hours a week for 6 years. I try to have sympathy for those who can’t make it because I’ve seen unfortunate things happen to people, but sometimes you got to own up to the fact that maybe you’re where you are because of you.

Posted By David, Salt Lake City, Utah : May 29, 2007 2:43 pm

Two major demographic facts are being neglected here: First, more women are in the workforce then in years past which depresses wages (note: I don’t think working women are a bad thing, but more competition for top jobs does have a inverse impact on real wages). Second: The Baby Boomers are still on the joband will be for another 10 years. When these top wage earners ride off into the sunset we gen x’ers will see our wages rise sharply. Those of you who wine about the politicians and the fat cats in business are deluded. The real “problem” is working women and our fat cat parents and there is no legislative soulution to that. Suck it up, work hard, and in 10 years you’ll get your due… unless of course you’d rather blame the world.

Posted By Ben, Cherry Creek Colorado : May 29, 2007 1:39 pm

What this study appears to ignore is how much of the decline is voluntary. Generation X has an unprecedented ability (thanks to social and economic changes) to strike a better balance between family and work. We can choose to take a lower-paying — but more flexible — jobs that allow us to spend more times with our families.

The same goes for housing and discretionary spending — more than a few people I know chose to buy less expensive houses and curtail buying the latest and greatest toys (be it cars or PlayStation 3s) so they could have the lifestyle they wanted.

These choices would naturally lead to a decline in median income relative to our fathers. I’m not arguing that some people aren’t seeing very real declines in their salaries from outsourcing and escalating living costs, but at the same time I don’t think those factors tell the full story.

Our priorities are different from those of our fathers, and while some of us make less than them, it does not necessarily follow that we are worse off as a result. It would be nice if this article acknowledged that possibility, rather than leaping to the gloom-and-doom conclusion.

Posted By Ken Newquist, Easton, Pa. : May 29, 2007 12:40 pm

The Big Corporations (and their CEOs) are the ones taking all the dough.

Posted By nowhere, usa : May 29, 2007 10:28 am

Those of you who fall into this age group, are taking your own rosy situation and projecting it on the population as a model are simply diluted. The PCC report is based on Census Bureau data that is statistically reproducible. It has nothing to do with whining or being lazy.

In terms of real dollars, not just males born in the 60s and 70s, but the American middle class as a whole lose more financial ground all of the time. The younger groups just happened to be hit harder economically. Peak earning years traditionally have been about 45-55. This is systematic dismantling of the middle class by government and big business. The current White House administration is probably the biggest offender. CEO’s are making more now than ever before as people struggle to pay medical bills and mortgages. Even Lee Iacocca, one of America’s great recent CEO’s, lamented about current CEO salary in a Charlie Rose interview.

Not only are wages proven to be stagnant or in decline, but real dollar prices of real estate (and other durable, non-durable goods) have skyrocketed since the 1970s. All of this data is statistically backed up. What we are witnessing is the extinction of the middle class, unless legislation is made, like national health care to begin with. Progressive taxes and an end to corporate welfare might be a good second and third step.

Posted By Sam, Hallandale Beach, FL : May 28, 2007 4:26 pm

As always in any competitive group of people (that would be “Americans”), there are two types:

A) The under-acheivers who wish for a re-distriubtion of wealth to compensate them for their perceived disadvantages.

B) The over-acheivers who earn more by definition by taking advantage of all society has to offer (sometimes including some extra lift, from connections by luck or birthright).

That is the way the cookie crumbles people, it’s the price of capitalism. The only other systems out there hold everyone to the lower rungs of the economic ladder, except for a super-corrupt group in the top 1% (Russia, Saudi, N. Korea, to name a few of the worst offenders).

For the under-acheivers, keep this in mind: At least in this environment you had a shot at the brass ring. Even if you ‘missed’ your shot at the American Dream, you’ve still got it pretty good historically.

Comparing incomes to dear-old Dad’s is like chasing smoke…hard to catch and harder to see. What would be more illuminating would be a study that compared lifestyle. The average lifestyle of the 1970’s may be held up as some kind of litmus test…but it’s one that most of us wouldn’t be happy living:

1) Average ages of marriage for men and women were around 22 for women, 24 for men…gee, wonder why all the Gen-X parents are now divoreced. These days some sanity has arrived, as marriage ages for both sexes approach 30 years. Thank God…and STOP having children in your 20’s…thats’s the fastest down elevator to poverty ever invented! In the 70’s, everbody had twice as many kids, explaining where lots of that ‘extra’ income went.

NOTE: I’d rather spend 50% of my income on a sweet house with a pool than on 4 or 5 rug-rats that will only add to this complaint column in just one short generation. 1 or 2 rugrats is fine.

2) Average divorces decrease net worth (that’s WEALTH) by approx. 10-15% over a lifetime, even more for the woman in 1975. Nice job Dad, just keep blowin’ that freakin’ inheritance you could have passed down workin’ for the Man over at the coal mine.

3) Our cars, houses, ladies (sorry, not to be sexist, but the chicks are WAYYY hotter now…even on average), age-adjusted appearances, life expectancies, drug-assisted living, vacations, stations, music/entertainment/TV/aucio/computer/bmobile communication are all so much better that it’s hard to even quantify the fact that LIFE IS BETTER. May cost more, but you get what you pay for.

NOTE: To all those little a-holes that continually whine about how life would be ‘better’ without all the interruptions of blackberries, cell phones, etc, etc…get a life. Without all those little toys ALL your lame jobs would now be in Udar-Pradesh.

4) Home-ownership rates are at historically high levels. 67% of the American public own their own home. If 1 or 2% fall off because they lied their butts off on the mortgage app or paid off Joe Appraiser to jack the value up a few hundred K on that ‘fixer-upper’ ex crack-house; CRY ME A RIVER. don’t sign where the line is dotted if you can’t read.

5)Our fathers are nice guys, but putzes mostly. What was that I heard about “changing the world,” and the summer of love?” Seems to me they all got a job workin’ for Gramps from the “Greatest Generation”. Most of them just followed the path they were given: Go to high school, military, free education GI Bill, punch time-card, get married…oops, get divorced, get married again, get divorced, have a few extra kids, don’t change the world one bit and have a nice ride of the gravy train our daddies made for us in WWII.

Get a life. Gen X and every generation after that has to chart our own futures, lives, retirement, etc. with no help of ritual, real family, or cohesive social structures such as the draft or other normalizing factors.

Hats off to this generation, now get off your asses and make some GREEN-

Good Luck, and happy hunting,

-Velveeta Elvis,

Denver Colorado

Posted By Dave Brown, Denver, Colorado : May 28, 2007 3:57 pm

interesting report. My assumption is that this has a lot to do with reduction in unionized jobs and the ease of companies to tap labor resources internationally now - not public policy. I would add some perspectie that people talking about college are ignoring the increased levels of people going to college, increased home ownership, increased use of credit card debt, and other actors to gain a more complete picture of how people are doing. Income is only one issue.

Posted By John, edison, NJ : May 28, 2007 3:26 pm

Things are very different today. We live in a globalized economy, which can provide us with opportunities our fathers never had. But…you have to use your head. Pouring 50% of your income into housing is not smart. Relying on a high school education is not smart. Saving nothing, or saving only in dollars, not smart. Learning other languages, looking ahead to new markets, investing in your skills — these things will help. And remember, you can get only ahead with hard work and persistence. Dad was very much right about that.

Posted By Kyle Pennett, Cchino Hills, CA : May 28, 2007 10:49 am

As a response to PhD Berkley:

It is impossible to invest savings if half of your income automatically belongs to Sallie Mae for the next 20 years.

Here we are looking at income, but something that needs to be addressed in all of this is the way higher education is funded and operates in the United States. I’m not better off than my parents, and I won’t be for the next 20 years until my student loan is paid off in full. Ask your parents, did it cost them $100,000 to get their BA/BS and a Master’s? Chances are, the answer is no.

If you look at the places where people are financially better off than their parents, Europe for example, education is provided in most cases by the state.

Posted By Jan, New York City, New York : May 28, 2007 7:06 am

Given that my parents income places them within the top .5% of income earners, I’ve got a f*&*ing job ahead of me. But I’m up for it.

I’m a college Junior at a decent Texas university. I’m very bright, but not so academically motivated. However, I will earn an MBA if need be.

However, at the moment I’m working on a start-up company with two other partners. At the moment we are seeking strategic business investments/venture capital. I realize, it will be VERY hard for me to match my parents’ income unless I start my own company.

Posted By Chris Dallas, TX : May 28, 2007 4:41 am

I see a lot of whining.

Certainly, these kinds of stories draw out those who, burning with disillusionment, need to salve their egos by blaming someone other than the person in the mirror.

I live quite comfortably in one of the most expensive locales in the US on $20K/year. I’m a student preparing myself to be globally competitive. And, instead of scapegoating corporate bigwigs, I have become one myself by investing my savings.

Posted By PhD, Berkeley, CA : May 28, 2007 1:36 am

This report smacks of truth, especially when I look at myself and my two brothers compared to our own father.

All of us have college educations, ranging from bachelor’s to master’s degrees and non of us make equal or more than our father did in 1974. The worst part about it, was that he was a factory worker that toiled and saved as hard as he could to have enough money to send us to college. Now the manufacturing jobs are leaving Michigan and the jobs that we have, while pretty prestigious, don’t pay as well as they could.

For the people boasting here about all the money they make, they need to realize that they are the minority that proves the rule, not the majority in this situation.

To top it off, the money that I pay in for health insurance, plus co-pays and bills that just don’t get covered has increased 500% since 2000. Its easily the most draining part of my outgo.

Posted By Steve, Grand Rapids, MI : May 28, 2007 1:13 am

In case any readers are confused, that last comment was a response I wrote to a person’s accusation that I’m unemployed because I’m not good enough. I pasted it here to shed some light on the overeducated, crushing student loan debt, unemployed/underpaid world of gen-x.
Loyola 2L

Posted By Loyola 2L. Los Angeles, CA : May 28, 2007 12:46 am

I’m clearly not good enough in the eyes of the legal community. Only the top 10% get to be good enough out of schools like Loyola. Had I gone to a good school like even a George Mason the odds would be palatable, but I got conned by glossy brochures into attending a complete fraud. A school running on false promises whose only goal is to maintain top school graduates in their cushy jobs.
I still remember last fall’s OCI. I was top 25% and expected at least one interview. I did better than 75% of my class. I’m good . . . but not good enough. Top 25%, top 50%, bottom 25% - we’re all in the same boat at these toilet schools. If you’re not top 10% you might as well not exist. Now let me ask you this. What sort of person sells a product which only works 10% of the time? If I sold a vacuum which only worked 10% of the time I would be out of business. Forgetting that, how do you even have the heart to do this to college graduates? I had hope for my life. I went to law school to improve myself, not to be a victim of some scam.
Do you know how many people graduate unemployed from Loyola? 40%. Imagine yourself completing three grueling years of law school hell, arrogant asshole professors and all, only to be unemployed. Now you have to pass the bar and hustle your way into a job, any job. You’re working for $50,000 a year, which barely even covers your student loan payments. The work environment is terrible and the only reason you don’t quit the job is because of the noose around your neck known as Sallie Mae. Read these profiles if you want to see how awful small firm life can be.
I wish I knew the truth about Loyola before enrolling. I wish I knew this overpriced degree, which supports about 200 fat paychecks, had a market worth less than my undergraduate degree. But I didn’t know. I guess I’m a poster boy for caveat emptor. I’m the person you point to when warning your children not to get ripped off. Whatever. I still have a right to be upset.

Posted By Loyola 2L. Los Angeles, CA : May 28, 2007 12:28 am

While we chase the scraps that fall off the table, the greed filled pig-men who run the mega-corporations and our mini-me politicians are robbing us blind. Adjusted for inflation,etc. we earn less each passing year while the profit pigs earn ever more. Then our pigaticians tax the middle while cutting the tax burden of the ultra wealthy to 10%. Historically this number was more like 40-50% unless you count the robber baron era. Buy less and buy local, and stop voting for multi-millionaires in any party!

Posted By Gary Dean Madison, WI : May 28, 2007 12:19 am

Sounds like a bunch of whining to me. My mother’s best year in the 80s was $15,000 as a waitress (single parent family). I make in the mid $90,000s now. If you do not like your position in life, get off your lazy butt and do something about it.

Posted By Madison, AL : May 27, 2007 11:49 pm

People are getting married, having children, and buying houses a lot later in life than their parents did. So it should not be surprising that they’re also taking longer to start careers and accumulate net worth. Thirty is the new twenty, didn’t you hear?

Posted By Gary S., Omaha NE : May 27, 2007 10:53 pm

This study comes as no surprise to me. I make a lot less than my father did at my age. I’m 36 and struggling everyday to make ends meet with an $800 a month rent, a fiancee and two stepkids.

Posted By John, Seymour, CT : May 27, 2007 9:14 pm

Hey, Michael Roberts of New York, NY, congrats on such a fabulous income! And it sounds like you have a lot of respect for your father and his mere $120K income (how could anybody possibly raise a family on that?). He must be so proud of his son. Has he ever psycho-analyzed you to uncover what you’re obviously trying to prove?

Posted By Chris, New York, NY : May 27, 2007 7:52 pm

There are many factors at work in this situation, none of which are very favorable to the average middle-class American. Location, cost of living, price of gasoline/food, stagant wage growth and child-care. I work in the IT field and where I live the average starting salary is $12-14 an hour. Yet, if I move to the Philly area my wages would double. However, offset that with the cost of living being 2 to 4 times higher there, I don’t make out on it. To make matters worse, more and more jobs require training or education that is not normally associated with a set job title. For example: A PC Technician, however the company wants you to be a programmer as well while only paying you $30k a year?! What gives?
In addition, I’m appalled by the number of responses from “educated” people making six figures, yet they cannot spell to save their lives…..

Posted By Stefan Banaszak, Lancaster, PA : May 27, 2007 5:45 pm

I think a lot of people posting here are not “getting it”. Of course you make more than your father did 30 years ago if you just count the number of dollar bills. Once you adjust for inflation though maybe not, this is the issue being addressed.

I just bought a house that is similiar to the house I grew up in. My mortgage payment is going to be about 10 times more than the mortgage payment on the house I grew up in. I don’t make 10 times what my father made. There is a reason why there are so many two income households nowadays.

Alot of the good paying manufacturing jobs are gone. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t gone to college. Unchecked immigration of low skilled workers have flooded the labor market with people who will do anything “for less”, which has depressed everyones wages at all income levels. If they had to pay low skilled workers better, they’d have to pay workers right above them better, and the workers above them better, etc.

You want to see real wages rise. Control the borders. We didn’t have this kind of onslaught of illegals coming in 30 years ago. Think of too many people trying to get out of the water into a lifeboat. They are literally swamping the lifeboat, and the lifeboat is tipping over.

Posted By Scott, Midland, TX : May 27, 2007 5:35 pm

An important factor to take into account when making this calculating is immigration. Do the 2004 numbers include new immigrants in their 30s? If so, then the income of those new immigrants’ fathers is unlikely to be included in the 1974 numbers, making the comparison invalid.

I skimmed the report and couldn’t see any mention of how immigrants are handled. This could be a critical issue.

I’m not opposed to immigration, but it’s a complicating factor when trying to make these types of comparisons.

Posted By John, Princeton NJ : May 27, 2007 3:22 pm

the lies continue to be written over and over. there seems to be a group of people being paid to say they are making lots of money. they are lieing to everyone who are trying to live a better than their parents pay more of US.Then we can join the group also.

Posted By blkmany,sun,prairie,wisc. : May 27, 2007 2:19 pm

I make what I consider to be great money, but it is less than my dad made. I’m glad this article was written. To me, this trend has been apparent for some time now. It is a shift for most Americans in a belief the country has held for generations. Until now, it seemed nobody really noticed.

Posted By Andy, Oak Brook, Illinois : May 27, 2007 2:09 pm

Go to college go to college! That is what we were all told when I was in high school. When I graduated from college in 1992, I was making $22,000 a year managing a 24-hour store. After working 10-17 hours a day, I averaged $6.00 an hour.

By 2002, I was making $29,000 with that lovely college degree, so I decided that it wasn’t enough and went to law school. Now I am $100,000 in debt and guess what starting attorneys make where I live? $42,000. All of that education was for nothing. i am going to make less than my sister with her high school diploma and cosmetology license.

Posted By Anonymous : May 27, 2007 1:34 pm

I believe this report is correct for the majority. I make about the same per year that my father made in the 70s, which doesn’t translate well for 2007, and I went to college, whereas he did not. My field (graphic design) was probably a poor choice looking back on it. I know there are decent paying jobs out there, I just don’t know where or how to find them, and I know most of my peers feel the same.

Posted By Chris, Salem, NH : May 27, 2007 1:08 pm

It’s really about drive and determination….more importantly being “proactive” and not “reactive” to events that dictate one’s financial independance in life and business. I’m 25 yrs old and in 3 short years working and hustling, I’ve managed to build up a large enough client list to allow myself to have 6 advisors working for me along with my own personal assistant at one of the top financial firms in the world. By know means do I have an Ivy League education, what I do have is a hunger to succeed and a vision that motivates.

On top of this fact, my current income level is in the six figures. Yet, I do not settle…I will be attending grad classes Jan of 08 and will have an MBA by age 27 and have my own financial company up and running by 30 yrs old. Life is about vision and values…you wont succeed if one of those characteristics are missing.

Posted By Mike Chicago, IL : May 27, 2007 1:04 pm

The mere existence of people that are in their 30s and have attained the “American Dream” does not undermine this study. There are far more people than you know that live off this “pathetic” wage, many of them that, no doubt, work just as hard, have just as much education, and planned their careers with the same foresight that many of you who now make oodles of cash did. There are a great many factors that help explain “individual” success, and make no mistake, that is what you are describing. Personally, I believe that this has happened in part, because women’s real wages have risen, and corporations, knowing that their bottom line has been corrupted, have compensated by adjusting men’s wages. Women make more than their mothers, men make less than their father’s and neither have the same buying power of the family in which they grew up. Wheres all that money going?

Posted By petey, Buffalo, NY : May 27, 2007 12:48 pm

My 33 year-old son makes roughly the same that his father did upon his retirement this year. His dad did very well. Son works in the technology field in R&D without college (mathematical brain). Our second son, 30, is fast approaching his brother’s income with technical schooling & a bachelor’s degree. Then the youngest son, who is 28, outstrips them both working at a ‘gubment job’ (a little college in technology). He also has the great benefits that go with it. All 3 have very good health/retirement plans, the eldest enjoys a 6-week sabbaticals every 5 years. He gets a new laptop and desktop every 2 years. Frankly, I envy them all. However, their ability to buy a home has decreased with the astronomical increase in living expenses. Only the youngest owns his home. They do, however, have new cars that used to be better than ours until I gifted my husband with his retirement truck. Gack.

Posted By Donna, Phoenix, AZ : May 27, 2007 12:37 pm

I keep reading about how 35,000 or 40,000 dollars a year is pathetic. But I this has a lot to do with geographic location. In California, or New York city that won’t buy much, but in parts of Ohio, North Western Pennsylvania, and Northern New York state that is making a very livable income.

That being said, the difference in income between generations has more to do with political policies and education. Tax codes that favor large corporations. Those with the means just increase their wealth while the working man regresses. Education is lacking because what schools fail to teach is finance and economics. This should be a high school course and not college level. Interest, compounding what is that. If more young adults fully understood finance, and investments from a younger age they would be empowered. Could avoid large credit debt, and be able to increase their wealth, using the stock market and other investments.

Just throwing this out there, a radical idea that stands no chance of ever happening. But if you wanted to level the playing field. Get rid of interest. Suddenly that top 10% that owns 60% of the country’s wealth, might actually have to work again, or do something productive in society instead of living off their interest.

Posted By Ben, Erie Pa : May 27, 2007 11:32 am

I don’t believe this report…EVERYONE I know in their mid 30’s makes more then their Dad did. I personally make 5-6 times what my father made…..

Posted By James Wayne, Pennsylvania : May 27, 2007 11:30 am

I was born in 1973, and I can tell you that in no way do I wish to have my income situation compared to that of my parents. Each generation has its own trials and tribulations, and each individual must be responsible for the financial choices that he/she makes. I do not think that is is coincidental that we have more two-income families: We as Americans have outstripped our own ability to make wealth, and are (literally) going to be paying for it for the rest of our lives.

Posted By SC, Somerville, MA : May 27, 2007 11:15 am

I make over 7,000% of what my father did in his final year at work. Like my fater, I had gone to college and grad school, only he had studied psychology and I sutudied buisness. I probobly work just as hard as he did, except I make over 5,000,000 and he made a mere 120k.

Posted By Michael Roberts, New York, NY : May 27, 2007 11:06 am

Are these numbers adjusted for inflation? Does inflafation exclude the “volitile food and energy prices” even though we spend a lot of our money on food and energy?

Posted By Michael Krauss, Mount Vernon, NY : May 27, 2007 11:00 am

Show us, please, the change in women’s incomes in these same timeframes. Then compare household incomes and men to women. How do benefits compare? I make far more than my father did 30 years ago and have benefits to boot and I’m a woman in the same profession he was then, though with a different specialty. My ex-husband also earns many times more than his father did. Just how big and diverse were the samples anyway?

Posted By S McCuen, Morganton, NC : May 27, 2007 9:32 am

Imagine that. I’m 34,single and my rent is 921.00 a month for a studio here in Califoria. If there’s ever been a reason to vote in local and nationwide elections…we’ve arrived. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for families with children that make the wage mentioned in this article. Then the environment is effecting wages as well. Wait the world is flat, and global warming doesn’t exist. Don’t believe me ask people in Florida paying high insurance rates is like. This is our American past time. Things do not have to stay this way, but that requires voting.

Posted By Chris Hupp, Oakland, CA : May 27, 2007 4:23 am

Between email, PCs, fax, cellpones, and blackberries…we are doing 4 times the work our fathers did in an 8 hour day. No such thing as an hour lunch anymore…Yet corporations demand more each year (the CEOs are all baby boomers that have to be taught Excell and Word), and our pay remains stagnant.

Posted By Michael Ashley Seattle WA : May 27, 2007 2:01 am

Absolutely true - today’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, provides workers with an average wage of $8 per hour. For the 1950’s generation entering back into the workforce after WWII, the largest employer was General Motors who paid in today’s dollars, an average wage of $18 per hour. Read the book “Generation Debt” and it documents fully the problems facing today’s younger (up to age 34 in 2002) workforce. In CA, the average home price is $600k — there is absolutely no possible way for someone to save up a 20% downpayment on those kinds of prices, while at the same time paying an average monthly rent of $1000 plus utilities.

Posted By KT, SF, CA : May 26, 2007 11:35 pm

I know many folks in my parents generation who went to work right out of High School, were married, single income households, and were able to afford a 15 year mortgage on a decent house and a brand new car payment.

Not only has the average earning power of the middle class been going down, but inflation keeps going up, and cost of housing and automobiles outpace average inflation many fold.

I graduated colledge w/ a BSEE degree in 1997. My starting salary was 37% more than my dad made at the same age as a heavy equipment operator. However, my first mortgage payment, 3 years into my first job was over 50% of my take-home pay. If I hadn’t jumped into the home market when I did, I would not even be able to buy now.

Posted By Derek, Boston, MA : May 26, 2007 2:41 pm

I’m greatly suprised that the average income of men age 30-39 is so low. $35,010 a year is pathetic! I’m 36 and make almost 3x that amount. My advice would be to go to college, and major and a lucrative, marketable field. I did it, it works. My father made much less.

Posted By Bill Milwaukee, WI : May 26, 2007 4:46 am

I suppose that all depends up your idea of ‘better off’ is. My father worked his tail off. He achieved a great deal, professionally. His personal life suffered as a consequence.
There was a period in my very early 30s where I made a great deal of money, but I wasn’t necesasrily I took a step back, and found that I was doing what I liked, but not at the previous pace. I was lucky enough to have an epiphany, backed off the fast track, and took a step down in pay. I’m slower paced, happier, and sleep much better at night.

After all, it’s only money. :-)

Posted By Dave, Wilmington, DE : May 25, 2007 8:33 pm

My father worked @ GM on the assembly line for 28 years.
I worked and went to Community College then transfered & got a BA.
I worked @ GM during the summers.
I’m a sales & design rep for a packaging company. I currently make more than 4 times what my father made his last year working.
I have good health coverage, but no pension. So, I have been maxing out my 401k for years.
My father’s job gave him security, but little growth potential.
My career has lots of risks & stress, but unlimited growth potential.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had not gone to College!

Posted By Mark G. Voorhees, NJ : May 25, 2007 7:28 pm

All the good paying jobs are now moved off shore. My job at Intel was moved to Poland. I was making $65k a year, now at 40k a year.
Who really thought that moving jobs off shore would benefit Americans? Only the rich and the Corporations profit from this

Posted By Randy Shoemaker, Woodland Hills California : May 25, 2007 7:13 pm

What’s sad is that this doesn’t factor in the massive increase in apartment and home rent and morgages, electric and gas utilities, and other bills that did not exist in the seventies!!!
I’m not as good at the math but i would guess that percentage of difference to be six or seven percent greater.

Posted By JAMIE, FORT WORTH, TEXAS : May 25, 2007 6:34 pm

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