Baby boomers with more education had higher growth rates in real earnings at every stage of life

September 05, 2019

The earnings of workers born in the later years of the baby boom (1957–64) increased most rapidly while they were young.  At every stage of life, real wages grew at a higher rate for workers who held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 Average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings by educational attainment and age, 1978–2016

Characteristic

Ages 18 to 24

Ages 25 to 34

Ages 35 to 44

Ages 45 to 52

Total

6.5% 3.3% 2.5% -0.2%

Less than a high school diploma

2.9 1.6 1.7 -1.4

High school graduates, no college

5.0 2.3 2.4 -0.5

Some college or associate degree

6.3 3.4 2.3 -0.3

Bachelor's degree and higher

9.6 5.3 3.0 0.5

Earnings growth for these workers from ages 18 to 24 who had less than a high school diploma was 2.9 percent per year, while those with a bachelor's degree and higher saw their earnings grow by 9.6 percent per year.  As these workers reached middle age, those with less than a high school diploma experienced a decline in earnings (-1.4 percent per year). For this same group of 45- to 52-year-olds, those with a bachelor's degree and higher saw their earnings increase by 0.5 percent. This pattern in earnings growth reflects, in part, the state of the U.S. economy during the years in which survey participants were in each age group.

These data are from the National Longitudinal Surveys. To learn more, see “Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results from a National Longitudinal Survey.” Wages are adjusted for annual inflation.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Baby boomers with more education had higher growth rates in real earnings at every stage of life on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/baby-boomers-with-more-education-had-higher-growth-rates-in-real-earnings-at-every-stage-of-life.htm (visited September 17, 2019).

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