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Shrinking incomes for young adults

By Crissinda Ponder · Bankrate.com
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

If you’re younger than 45, getting your desired income is more difficult than it was just a decade ago.

According to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest survey of consumer finances, median household income for Americans ages 35-44 fell 14 percent between 2001 and 2010 -- to $53,900 from $63,000.

For those in the workforce who are younger than 35, their median income also dropped 14 percent during that decade, going from $40,900 to $35,100.

The most depressing statistic: Working Americans with college degrees saw their median income fall from $83,100 to $73,800 -- an 11 percent decline.

More recently, between 2007 and 2010, the decline in median income hit more highly educated families, families with heads-of-household younger than 55, and families living in the South and West regions of the country, the survey points out.

Overall, median income declined across demographic groups. Only a few groups, such as retirees, experienced rising or stable incomes.

The Federal Reserve Board cites families’ decision-making and the state of the broader economy for affecting finances.

The trickle-down factor of our hemorrhaging economy seems more pronounced, as the young 'uns in the workforce younger than 35 have to pull more than their fair share of weight and work even harder for a few extra bucks.

As a (very) recent college graduate, I find these numbers to be disturbing -- no, downright scary. If that income level keeps falling, will I be able to live off an income characteristic of those in the middle 50 percent of all earners in my age range? Do I need to beef up a side hustle and make it one of my primary sources of income?

Maybe working from home and holding down a full-time job don’t seem too tough to handle after all, especially after being slapped in the face with these numbers.

Crissinda Ponder is a reporting intern for Bankrate. Follow her on Twitter @CrissiPonder.

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July 05, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I hope that the next generation coming up in the United States grows a set and starts fighting for fair wages for themselves. At what point are people going to finally realize that the CEO's and Rich and/or Corrupt Politicians keep getting richer while the middle class is earning less than ever and is disappearing by the day. If you aren't in a Union, get in one. If your company isn't union, fight to make it one. Even the biggest companies can't survive without its United States employees. WALK OUT. START A UNION!!! Show the CEO's and Politicians that WE are the Boss. Class Warfare is REAL and the incredibly wealthy are WINNING and have convinced you to fight for THEM. If you've jumped onboard and blamed the Unions like the rich CEO's, news agencies, and politicians tell you to, then you must think that you are going to be as rich as one of those CEO's someday. Smarten up people. The only way to take back our country and to regain our middle class is to UNIONIZE AMERICA ONCE AGAIN!!! Share this message if you want YOUR America back...

Jack Schmidt
July 05, 2012 at 6:02 pm

ran mark is an idiot and does not know what he is talking about and it is because of stupid people like him that this country is going down and it's best days were between the 50's and the 70's until they started breaking the unions in the 80's (and I never even have been in a union but am smart enough to realize that unions are what created the middle class and it's great consumption engine which is now "running out of gas" no pun intended)

July 05, 2012 at 4:10 pm

As bleak as this all is, be thankful you aren't in the 50 - 65 year age bracket (pre-retirement). The majority of that age bracket lost the highest amount of their life savings, are the first to be "removed or downsized" and the last to be considered for employment when applying for a new job. HR and corporate people everywhere will tell you that this age bracket is the last to be considered for employment because of the additional health insurance cost and their "anticipated income" for a job. I know 5 people who's income has dropped by 50% and 4 others who have been job hunting for over 1 year. I have no doubt that the average income for 50 - 65 year olds has dropped more than 30% in the past 5 years, while our taxes continue to rise.

Abigail Conway
July 05, 2012 at 4:09 pm


July 05, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Do you remember when the banks were advertising " use your homes equity to live a better life ? We all know folks who were victimized by that.
It goes without saying that this " Set-up " ruined many families , perhaps forever if they were retirees living on a rigidly fixed pension with an expiration date attached to it.

Now with these " Patriotic Companies who exported our jobs for the sole purpose of Union Busting. Anybody who commits an act injurious to the National Security of the United States is called a Traiter and imprisioned. When big corporations do the same by exporting our jobs, they are called " Patriots".

This is nothing but hypocracy intended to create a CAST SYSTEM for the Rich.

July 05, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Strange that everyone is just now noticing this, I have been working sense the 70's and I have constantly seen my salary go down, even after specialized training and education in the printing field, plus, Industrial Mainetance Certification, and College. So much for all that school (what good did it do me, I watched as I lost 8 jobs closing and going out of the country and everytime I had to start over I continuely watched as my salary trickled. My benefits slowly changed to the worsed. My Insurance cost more and I got less out of it. I watched as I lost three pensions cause I had to be vested after 10 years of employment, the most I ever got was 7 years in at one place due to closings. Thank You Presidents, Congress and Senate for passing laws to benefit the companies and taking our jobs away.

Paul Tenenbaum
July 05, 2012 at 2:54 pm

When was the last time you shopped for anything that was MADE IN THE USA? You will note: made in China, Malaysia, Mexico! WHY?
Well, years back our darling manufacturing companies closed their factories HERE and reopened them in the above countries and others. Reason: cheaper labor cost and the decimation of unions which by the way created after WWII our MIDDLE CLASS. Just ask your parents. That is when our country blossomed and the entire world looked at us with envy.
As is this was not enough, we had the Bush Tax cut and two wars.
THAT is why our economy is in this mess. When people have no jobs they cannot pay Taxes, Social Security and Medicare.
It is HIGH TIME we make these "patriotic" companies pay up for what harm they caussed to our country. Do you see their CEO's,
FEO'S and other EO's waiting in line for their unemployment check
They count their millions and check their ACCOUNTS in the Cayman
and other places. The Housing debacle was a direct result of the greediness of all our banks.
Our next generations have little to look foward to. Think people!

July 05, 2012 at 2:14 pm

The example here is that income went down due to economic and business conditions and those it affected were in these age groups. Many lost their jobs which I am sure affected the data here and they found jobs which paid less. We can cut everyones tax to zero and if you lost your job it will not matter that taxes are zero. Tax cuts only matter if you have an job or income to tax. Trickle down or otherwise.

ran mark
July 05, 2012 at 1:48 pm

During the Bush years, the average unemployment rate was 4.8%. Is 4.8% better than 41 months at an average rate of 9.1%? Right now, 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed due to Obamanomics, the worst this nation has seen since the Depression. What did the nation get for the $5.3 trillion of new Obama debt? Nothing. General Motors owes the taxpayers $52 billion, and has $30 billion in cash in the bank. Why doesn't Obama ask GM to pay our money back so we can use it to put people to work? According to the Energy Dept., each "green" job our tax money paid for cost us $913,618 per job. Don't drink the Obama Kool-Aid, look at the facts, they are frightening.

Pete Gardiner
July 05, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Wow looks like the Bush tax cuts are not trickling down to working people!