K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Young Households Are Losing Ground in Income, Despite Education

Floyd Norris:

The Federal Reserve Board’s newly released 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that the median family headed by someone under 35 years of age earned $35,509 in 2013 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that is 6 percent less than similar families reported in the first such survey, in 1989.

Since 1989, the Fed has conducted extensive interviews of consumers every three years. Respondents are asked about their family’s income in the previous year, as well as about wealth, debt, education and attitudes toward financial issues. The results are released by family, not by individual, so the median family income may include the income of both spouses. Single-person households are included in the family calculations.

As can be seen in the charts, younger families have fallen further and further behind older families as time has passed. Nearly a quarter-century after the first survey was taken, families headed by people over 55 generally have higher incomes, after adjusting for inflation, than their predecessors did. But those in groups under 55 generally earn less than their predecessors.