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Here's What Americans Are Making at Every Age

By Maurie Backman – Sep 19, 2019 at 5:49AM

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How does your income compare?

It's not unusual to wonder how your income compares to that of your friends, family members, or neighbors, and new data from GOBankingRates might answer that question to some degree. Here's what median annual earnings look like across a number of key age groups:

Age Range

Median Annual Earnings

20 to 24


25 to 34


35 to 44


45 to 54


55 to 64


65 and older



Interestingly, wages seem to peak between the ages of 35 and 44 and hold relatively steady through age 54. But there's a modest dip in wages when we compare what Americans earn between the ages of 35 and 44 to what they bring home from age 55 through 64. And there's a more sizable drop among older members of the workforce, suggesting that perhaps those 65 and over are cutting back their hours or taking lower-paying jobs to ease into retirement.

Person with fingernails painted red holding a bunch of hundred-dollar bills.


Are you making the most of your paycheck?

Regardless of how much you earn, your goal should be to manage your income wisely. That means setting aside 15% to 20% of your earnings each month for retirement savings, and keeping your housing costs to 30% of your take-home pay or less. Following both guidelines will help ensure that you have enough money to pay your bills at present, and that you'll have enough to cover your expenses once your time in the workforce comes to an end.

At the same time, use the above data as a wake-up call to not put off retirement savings. Many younger workers assume that they should spend the first half of their careers focusing on goals like paying off debt and saving for a home, and that they'll manage to sock away funds for retirement once they gain more experience and their earnings climb. But as you can see, workers aged 35 to 44 make more money than their older counterparts, so if your strategy is to wait till your late 40s or 50s to snag a huge raise and then fund your nest egg, you may want to rethink it -- especially since waiting will mean losing out on years of investment growth that can substantially boost your savings balance.

Fighting for a higher paycheck

Just because the average worker your age makes a certain amount of money doesn't mean you should be earning that much. At the same time, it never hurts to dig up salary data for your industry and ensure that your paycheck is up to snuff. If, for example, you discover that the typical worker with your job title makes $52,000 while you're only earning $46,000, that's data you should present to your boss in the context of requesting a raise.

Boosting your skills could also result in a salary increase. It pays to work on not only your job-specific skills, but soft skills, like time management and communication, that apply universally.

It's helpful (or at least interesting) to know what the typical worker earns by age. But remember, your paycheck, no matter how large or how small, is what you make of it. If you budget wisely, keep your expenses manageable, and save consistently, you'll eliminate financial stress from your life both now and for the future.

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