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Life Balance: Salary Differences For Men Today

Do you think Salaries have gotten better or worse over the years? Some career experts think that men today don't have it as well as their fathers once did.

American men in their 30s today are worse off than their fathers' generation, a reversal from just a decade ago, when sons generally were better off than their fathers, a new study finds.

The study, the first in a series on economic mobility undertaken by several prominent think tanks, also says the typical American family's income has lagged far behind productivity growth since 2000, a departure from most of the post-World War II period.

Are You Better Off Than Your Parents?
In 2004, the median income for a man in his 30s, a good predictor of his lifetime earnings, was $35,010, the study says, 12% less than for men in their 30s in 1974 -- their fathers' generation -- adjusted for inflation. A decade ago, median income for men in their 30s was $32,901, 5% higher than 30 years earlier. Ms. Sawhill said she isn't sure why men's wages have stagnated. "It seems there's been some slowdown in economic growth, it's possible that the movement of women into the labor force has affected male earnings, and it's possible that men are not working as hard as they used to."

The study suggests that absolute mobility -- the rate at which an entire generation's lot improves relative to previous generations -- has declined. But within a particular generation, individuals can still get ahead if relative mobility, the rate at which the rich and poor trade places, remains high. Poor fathers may have rich sons, and vice versa.

The report also found that between 1947 and 1974, productivity, or output per hour, and median family income, adjusted for inflation, both roughly doubled. Between 1974 and 2000, productivity rose 56% while income rose 29%. Between 2000 and 2005, productivity rose 16% while median income fell 2%, challenging "the notion that a rising tide will lift all boats," the report says.

One sure way to increase your salary potential is to hold at least a bachelor's degree. The more education you have under your belt will help to ensure that you remain on the higher end of the salary scale.


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