Do You Make More Than Your Classmates?

Investing & Retiring, Jobs


When you graduated, you probably entered the workplace with plenty of optimism.You were ready to take the workplace by storm and earn a comfortable living – maybe even outpacing the rest of your classmates. How is that plan working out?

Find out by comparing your current salary with new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS gives the median earnings for each age group of American workers as of the halfway mark in 2018, including subcategories for gender and ethnic factors.

Median earnings for the youngest group, 16- to 19-year-old workers, are $450 per week ($23,400 annually). Men earn $465 per week ($24,180 annually) while women earn $424 per week ($22,048 annually). The overall gender wage gap is around 81 to 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, and the trend begins early.

Median earnings for 20 to 24-year-old workers are $540 per week ($28,080 annually). Men earn $561 per week ($29,172 annually) while women earn $523 per week ($27,196 annually).

Median earnings for 25 to 34-year-old workers, those in the early stages of their careers, are $794 per week ($41,288 annually). Men in this age group earn $857 per week ($44,564 annually) while women earn $738 per week ($38,376 annually).

Median earnings for 35 to 44-year-old workers are $971 per week ($50,492 annually). Men in this age group earn $1,085 per week ($56,420 annually) while women earn $866 per week ($45,032 annually). The gender gap becomes more pronounced at this stage.

Median earnings for 45 to 54-year-old workers in their prime working years are $986 per week ($51,272 annually). Men in this age group earn $1,108 per week ($57,616 annually) while women earn $854 per week ($44,408 annually).

Median earnings for pre-retirement workers (55 to 64-years-old) are $993 per week ($51,636 annually). Men in this age group earn $1,127 per week ($58,604 annually) while women earn $856 per week ($44,512 annually).

Median earnings for near-retirees (workers aged 65 and above) are $996 per week ($51,792 annually). Men in this age group earn $1,074 per week ($55,848 annually) while women earn $925 per week ($48,100 annually).

The gender wage gap becomes pronounced as workers age. While women make some progress in the 20 to 24 age group, the gender wage gap widens significantly during the prime earning years – only partially closing near retirement.

BLS data also shows ethnic variations. The median weekly salary for all 25 to 54-year old workers is $907, but within that age group Asian-Americans average $1,175, Caucasian Americans earn $934, African-Americans earn $711, and Hispanic/Latino Americans earned only $699. The same general division between ethnic groups median earnings holds for both younger and older age groups.

Are you below the median for your age, gender, or ethnic group? It may not matter if you live in an area with a low cost-of-living. Your median salary of $50,492 as a 35 to 44-year-old American may serve you well in Kentucky or Arkansas, where the average living wage is $43,000 and $45,000 respectively (according to CNBC and the MIT living wage calculator), but you’ll have a harder time getting by in Massachusetts or Connecticut, where the living wage is $60,000.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much more or less you make than others in your age group. Do you earn enough to support your family and provide a sound financial future? If not, maybe it’s time to look at other employment options – or consider asking for a raise if you’ve earned one.

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Photo ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

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