When I was a young woman in my twenties and thirties, my earnings goal was to match my age with my salary. Today that goal is laughable, particularly for a professional with a college degree.
Workers with a bachelor’s degree earn more than twice of those with only high school diploma, according to the US Census Bureau. In 2020, college graduates earned a median income of $106,936, which is 126 percent more than the $47,405 earned by those with a high school diploma.
However, back in the 80’s when I started my career as a journalist, the wage for a newspaper reporter was extremely low in my market, less than $15,000 a year.
I started with the newspaper while in college as a part-time “copy girl,” running news copy from the editors’ desk to the layout and design department. Once I graduated from college, I was promoted to Obituary Clerk and then News Reporter the following year.
By the time I left, I was still only making $25,000 at the age of 34. I changed my career and my focus to management, which accelerated my earnings substantially.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau; “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020” the median household peaks when workers reach their 40’s and 50’, once their careers are stabilized.
This was historically true, until the pandemic.
Census data shows that in 2019, the median household income in the United States was $69,560. In 2020, the median household income dropped 2.9 percent to $67,521. The financial experts at Bankrate created a guide noting some important income statistics in the U.S., including the age bracket of the nation’s top earners and median income by states:
The pandemic ushered in a wave of layoffs and business closures. Fortunately, many jobs have returned, but employees have not. The US employment rate for 2020 was 8.31%, a 4.64% increase over the previous year. The March unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, which is good news.
Workers are returning and skilled workers are being paid a premium. Employers are finding that they have to either increase wages, offer flexible working hours and conditions such as remote work or other perks to retain their people and attract new talent.
Employers and employees must evaluate what’s working best for them and in their best interest.
As an employer, does the company culture add value to the employees and make them want to stay? If not, then it’s not too late to change your culture and begin building the loyalty and love for your business that you desire.
As an employee, do the perks of the job and the wages match where you thought you’d be at this time in your life? If not, it’s not too late to get the education, skills and knowledge you need to elevate your career.
There are needs and solutions on both sides. Make plans today to make the most out of the recovery that we all hope to enjoy.