In 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, Americans were struggling to find jobs and watching their investments tank. A decade later, things have bounced back quite a bit. However, wages remain relatively stagnant.
The data speaks for itself: In 2019, Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 are earning just 4% more than they did in 2009, after adjusting for inflation, according to CNBC analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Today's typical wages have about the same purchasing power they did more than 40 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center. "The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today," writes Pew's Drew DeSilver. Plus, DeSilver points out, "what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers."
Here's a look at how the median amount Americans earned at every age for the second quarter of 2009 compares to the median amount Americans are earning in the second quarter of 2019. Historical numbers are adjusted for inflation.
These stagnant wages make it difficult for young people to reach the same financial milestones as their parents and grandparents, including paying for college or buying a home.
To make things worse, life is getting more expensive. Students who attended four-year public colleges graduated with an average of $26,900 in student loans in 2017, according to the College Board. Those who earned their degree from a four-year private college graduated with an average of $32,600 in loans.
Americans struggle to stretch their paychecks to cover several financial priorities at once. For many, that means putting some goals on hold. Unison found that 83% of non-homeowners said student debt is the reason they can't afford to buy a home right now. Generally, they're delaying buying a house by around seven years because of it, the report found.
Here's the median amount Americans earned at every age for the second quarter of 2009, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here's what that would be in 2019 dollars calculated by an inflation calculator:
And here's the median amount Americans are earning in the second quarter of 2019, according to data from the BLS:
For comparison, here's how much more each age group is making in 2019 versus 2009:
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