Baby Boomer earnings grew fastest during their late teens and early twenties

April 03, 2015

Inflation-adjusted earnings of workers born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957 to 1964) increased most rapidly while they were young. Real hourly earnings grew by an average of 6.2 percent per year from age 18 to age 24. Real earnings growth slowed to 4.1 percent per year from age 25 to age 29. Real hourly earnings grew 3.3 percent per year from age 30 to age 34 and 3.1 percent from age 35 to age 39. From ages 40 to 48, real earnings grew an average of 0.7 percent per year.

 

 

Average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings from 1978 to 2012 for people born in 1957–1964
Characteristic Ages 18 to 24 Ages 25 to 29 Ages 30 to 34 Ages 35 to 39 Ages 40 to 48

Both sexes

6.2 4.1 3.3 3.1 0.7

Less than a high school diploma

3.0 2.4 1.9 2.2 0.0

High school graduates, no college

4.8 2.6 2.4 2.9 0.4

Less than a bachelor's degree

6.2 4.7 3.4 2.8 0.6

Bachelor's degree or more

9.4 6.2 4.9 3.9 1.3

Men

6.9 4.5 3.6 3.1 0.6

Less than a high school diploma

3.6 2.1 2.2 1.7 -0.4

High school graduates, no college

5.5 3.0 2.3 2.9 0.5

Less than a bachelor's degree

7.5 5.3 4.1 2.6 0.2

Bachelor's degree or more

9.8 7.5 5.9 4.5 1.5

Women

5.6 3.6 2.9 3.0 0.7

Less than a high school diploma

1.9 2.8 1.4 2.9 0.5

High school graduates, no college

3.8 2.1 2.6 2.8 0.3

Less than a bachelor's degree

5.1 4.3 2.8 3.0 0.9

Bachelor's degree or more

9.0 4.9 3.9 3.3 1.2

In every age category, inflation-adjusted hourly earnings generally grew faster for workers with more education. Among 35- to 39-year-old baby boomers, for example, real hourly earnings grew 3.9 percent annually for people with a bachelor's degree or more education. That compares with a 2.9-percent annual growth rate for people at the same ages who had completed a high school diploma but had never attended college.

These data are from the National Longitudinal Surveys. To learn more, see "Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey" (HTML) (PDF).

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Baby Boomer earnings grew fastest during their late teens and early twenties on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/baby-boomer-earnings-grew-fastest-during-their-late-teens-and-early-twenties.htm (visited October 17, 2017).

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