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Young men earn much less now than in 1973

The median income of American men paints a gloomy picture.

By MSN Money Partner May 14, 2014 2:27PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyMen's median income is on the decline. It's depressing, but true.

Cheryl Russell of the New Strategist Press writes that, according to Census information, men ages 25 to 34 actually earn less than they did 40 years ago.

Among all American men, ages 15 and older, median income peaked in 2000, at $37,791. After adjusting for inflation, men's median income fell 10 percent from 2000 to 2012, to $33,904. (All figures are given in 2012 dollars.)

A young man admiring a new car © i love images/Cultura/Getty ImagesWhile a 10 percent drop in income sounds terrible, it gets worse when you break it down by age groups, Russell said.

Check out these sad statistics for the percentage change in men's median income from the year it peaked to 2012 (adjusted for inflation):

  • Ages 25-34. Down 27 percent. Peaked in 1973.
  • Ages 35-44. Down 19 percent. Peaked in 1973.
  • Ages 45-54. Down 17 percent. Peaked in 1999.
  • Ages 55-64. Down 13 percent. Peaked in 2003.

Russell said:

The median income of men aged 25 to 34 has plunged since 1973, falling from $46,598 to $34,113 after adjusting for inflation -- a loss of $12,485. Men aged 35 to 44 have lost $10,345 since their peak. Men aged 45 to 54 have lost $9,762, and men aged 55 to 64 have lost $6,407.

Do these statistics surprise you?

More from Money Talks News

May 14, 2014 4:31PM

In '73 American BUILT THINGS.  Now we are a finance/retail/service based economy which cannot survive.  We didn't buy rocket engines from Russia and everything else from China.  It was MADE IN THE USA and it made us prosperous.  Now, we have been sold out by the corporate masters and their political law makers.


May 14, 2014 3:43PM
Those were the days my friend, I thought they'd never end....them good ole days....the 70's were the best times of my life! People seemed happier and we had more jobs and less government.
May 14, 2014 5:04PM
In 1973 I worked as an Engineers Aide in Northern Wisconsin and was paid 3.75/hour. Most of the working class people in that town were paid under 2.70/hour. I know that the wordworkers making furniture were paid just under 2.00/hour. I lived in a two bedroom apartment and my rent was 65.00/month with under 10.00/month utilites and the water meter charge was 3.00 month. I was rolling in money and didnt know it. In 2014 I am earning 33.00/hour and I felt richer back in 1973
May 14, 2014 3:45PM

What they forget is since 2000 companies have merged so many times that competition has declined immensely.  Without competition wages drop because there are fewer bidders for employees.  Where's a Teddy Roosevelt type of person for president that would go trust busting when you need one?


Roosevelt knew that when wall street was acting this foolishly it would only lead to a revolution.  With the leadership from both sides not doing anything to facilitate competition we will have that revolution he foresaw and both parties will be thrown out.

May 14, 2014 4:31PM
Of course you must remember that young men in '73 were MEN,..not like these feminized pajama boys that the media seems to love. 
May 14, 2014 3:41PM
I think it has a lot to do with outsourcing and informing. A lot of decent middle class jobs are going overseas these days. Either that or we are bringing in foreigners to do jobs that used to pay an average salary for half the wage. Now people can't support a family on those jobs.
There were one hundred million less people in 1973. That can do a lot for a median. Poor people with bad work habits and no education also breed faster.
May 14, 2014 4:45PM
In 1973 when I was 17, I made $3.65/hour, $2/hour over minimum.  This was equivalent to 220% of minimum wage, to pump gas.  I went to High School in the morning and closed the station at night.  Everyone wanted my job.
May 14, 2014 4:21PM
This is what happens when corporations run the country. This trend continues as I write: more corporate profits; less wages. Wait til you see where wages are in another 40 years: think India, Mexico, or Somolia... Workers then will be wishing for the good old 2010s.
May 14, 2014 3:58PM
I blame china , you can't compete with slave labour .
May 14, 2014 4:34PM
 Corporate America told you things would be much better without Unions and they were right. Profits have never been higher and the Koch bros have never been richer.
May 14, 2014 3:51PM
Many young men also worked harder in '73. Getting out of high school often meant getting married and supporting a family. Jobs in manufacturing and construction were easier to find, and paid well. 

For today's equivalent, take a look at the jobs in the Dakota oil fields where young men earn a lot more than minimum wage and work hard for the money.
May 14, 2014 3:28PM
How's that HOPE and CHANGE working out for you?     

Under this President, we have job loss, chronic unemployment and underemployment, stagnant and even decreasing wages, more part time work instead of full time, more low paying service jobs instead of good paying, high tech and high skilled jobs, high gas prices, high health care costs, high food costs, record number of people on food stamps and disability insurance....the list goes on.....

Vote for real change in November!
May 14, 2014 5:24PM
When the Golden Calf ran for President in 2008 he promised "hope and change," income equality and economic prosperity for all.  What the hell happened???  Why has the cost of living increased significantly whilst wages remained stagnant?  Why is unemployment among blacks 3% higher in 2013 than it was in 2009 when the Golden Calf took office?
May 14, 2014 4:17PM
White Flight Time in 1973. Pushed out of Southern California because they were only hiring Asians, Hispanics and African Americans. Now later in life I find out I'm a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and have some black blood. The Mormons hired me in Utah for much better pay than California's prejudice affirmative action programs for certain races of government choice. The pay was better then and house prices were much, much less. Today it is all about corporate profits, how much can politicians get if elected to office, lies and stocks. It matters not what your race, sexual preference, sex and religion are today. It is a screw job for all who get up and go to work. The dollars are worth less, the retirement plans are faulty, taxes are more, food and rent are expensive, welfare is out of control, property is out of reach for most and you cannot afford to get sick. Vacations- Not now maybe later plan.
May 14, 2014 5:56PM

I said it once and I'll say it again. Call me what yyou want but I worked the industry and saw the change.. Back then, we went from fast food jobs that barely paid anything  (gee sounds familiar) to construction. Even starting out you still made just a little better than what we got working fast food. However, you could get good money once you learn a trade, or ran equipment. I learned both and made great money. This was an important transistion as it really did give you a sense of pride in your work, and made us healthier to boot.. When I came out fo the Navy, I went back to running equipment again. But what I noticed in the early 80's in some of these jobs was a shift to illegal immigrants. It allowed some companies to hire them on a daily basis which they could get them for a fraction of the cost and paid no taxes (yeah I'll argue that one as correct even today).

Fast forward past all the amnesties and such, and now we have an industry that few people can make a living wage on. Sorry, but it has not changed. So when the Great Recession came about, America lost out by not having these shovel ready jobs available. You can rant on how lazy young people are. But if you have NOTHING for them to move up into like construction, then you will continue to have +20% unemployment for young people for years to come..

So I'll say it.. Deport anyone who should not be here. Allow these jobs to come back up to a living wage. Give these young men and women a chance to experience what construction is all about. Some will love it, other will move on..


Call me what you will, but these are the real world facts..


May 14, 2014 4:42PM
no surprise . I made  $8.00 an hour cash money cutting tobacco ...........40 years ago.
May 14, 2014 6:08PM
Duh!  The jobs people did then for good money have been shipped overseas!  Its a no brainer here!  I make more now than my Dad did back then, but what he made then fed four, paid all expenses including a mortgage.  What I make today will barely cover living expenses and an apartment and I am a very conservative person when it comes to money!  If I dare ask for a raise they would say that there are plenty in line who will work for what we pay you now.  If I can't pay in cash I do without! WTF happened?  10 years ago things were terrific!  I am too old to waste more money on earning another degree.  I have heard and done all the work harder and get educated stuff if you aren't born into wealth these days it is very hard to achieve late in life.  I Wish I had the 50 grand or so I spent on college in a retirement fund right now!  Got my degree in 1995 and never had a job that required it, could never land a job to gain experience in my field.  I have been working out of my field since graduation, haven't wore a coat and tie since graduation.  I went to college to shed the blue collar but it is permanently attached now.  I'm too old to think about starting a business of my own, I don't need the headaches.
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