Earnings of Young Americans

Earnings of Young Americans

Let’s look at what’s happened to young workers’ paychecks over the last generation, starting with the experience of young men. Three years before the recession, the typical earnings for all young men working full-time were down 4 percent compared to 1980. And behind those overall figures are deep drops in earnings for the majority of young men. By 2005, young men with only a high school diploma were making 82 cents for every dollar their father made back in 1980; young men with some college were making only 92 cents. The only men who made progress over a generation were those with at a least a bachelor’s degree. By 2005, they were making $1.16 for every $1.00 their dad had made at that age in 1980. Of course, that extra 16 cents per dollar gets quickly eaten away by the student loan payments and higher housing costs that also distinguish the life of a 20-something Millennial compared to Baby Boomers. What happened to men since the Great Recession is a continuation of these trends against a backdrop of a labor market that is no longer creating enough jobs to go around.