American 30 year old’s wealth also halved in the past decade

The BBC recently reported that Wealth of people in their 30s has ‘halved in a decade’ in the UK.

I ran the numbers for the United States using data from the US Federal Reserve and the results are shockingly similar. Using data from the most recent report from the Federal Reserve, people in their 30s have had a dramatic drop in net worth from $57000 prior to the recession to about $25000 in the years after the recession.  That is drop of over 55%! Even if you compare against numbers from 20 years ago, the wealth of people in their 30s today is half. Among the reasons for this are increased costs of education, reduced earnings, and higher health care costs.

Here is a graph showing the inflation adjusted median net worth trends of households led by 30 year olds every 3 years from 1992 to 2013 (the most recent survey available). All values are in inflation adjusted 2013 dollars.

Tips! Hover over the bars to see the exact amounts.

These trends are telling since this means that the younger generations are not able to build up the same levels of wealth as those who came before them.  With the upcoming election, it is not surprising that the younger generations have been attracted to relative political outsiders such as Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein who promise greater opportunities to those who have not seen much of the benefit of the recovering economy.

Looking at the median income for these households, income for these same households has dropped 13%+, since the recession and has not yet recovered. It is not as dramatic as the drop in net worth, but that 13% drop has basically handicapped many young adult households from being able to save.

The data for these charts came from the US Treasury. All of this data is freely available there for you to perform your own analysis and fact checking.

If you would like to play around with the 2013 net worth data, check out the net worth rank calculator. Net worth is defined at total assets minus total debts, including housing, vehicles, cash, investments and retirement accounts.

10 thoughts on “American 30 year old’s wealth also halved in the past decade”

  1. It’s pretty scary how income inequality has increased so much in the past few decades. Although we did see strong wage growth in the 2015 year–a record, even–it will take years to undo the damage. It will be fascinating to see how the increase of automation affects the labor market and inequality. I’m more optimistic than most although some believe it will result in serious job losses and widening inequality.

  2. This is VERY scary. A lot of people are very stressed out financially. Especially when so many people have debt tied up in student loans and credit card and other consumer loans. Really makes you worry for the future :-/

    1. Well, if they have a lot of debt tied up in Credit Card purchases, perhaps they would be better off if they (a) stopped buying so much stuff that they can’t afford and (b) start investing (once they pay off the cards) instead.

      1. When I was growing up, going out to eat was a real family treat, not a routine event multiple times a week. Most middle class folks mowed their own yards, they didn’t hire professional companies to do it. Most home renovations had a large percentage of home owner sweat equity built into them. Now it’s more common to hire out all that work. People bought starter homes that needed work and weren’t “just what they wanted, just perfect.” Now they want everything perfect on day one. Houses are built way larger than they were a generation or two ago. Average new car price is about $36k but a perfectly good new car can be found for $16k. And families have more cars, too.

        Only about 25% of people go to college so the excuse of rising college costs can’t be used for 75% of the population. Median college loans are less than the average cost of a new car so it’s certainly possible for a host of people to get a college degree in an affordable manner. I see a lot of posts from people celebrating getting a new car that costs too much for what they make. One debt is considered indentured servitude and the other is celebrated.

        There are multiple reasons why net worth has stagnated. Wages haven’t risen as much. Minimum wage has barely moved at all. Those are legitimate complaints.

        But a host of people have nothing but their own choices to blame. Correct for this in the numbers and things might not look so bad.

  3. Inequality… I don’t care about inequality.
    When I was 35 and my wife was 29 and son was 7 we were given the opportunity to legally enter into USA in 97. Back then our net worth was – $6.000 (air fare and 2 first cars) and we found 2 min wage jobs. 4 vocational night schools on credit( one was terrible for profit school with promised job placement)later in 5 years we went from the bottom 20% to the top 20%
    In 10 years we came in to the top 10% and payed for our son’s public college out of pocket(room and board included.)
    In 2018 we have 1 mil. in our 401(K) and keep going with saving

  4. Blaming income inequality on bogus concepts such as “structural racism” or “White Privilege” is an insult to people like yourself who prove time and time again that hard work and intelligent decisions are the key to success in this country.
    For example, having children out of wedlock before you even finish high school is one way to help ensure a life of poverty for both you and your children.

  5. The main problems are lack of financial knowledge, leadership (parenting) to make good decisions and the unwillingness to delay gratification.
    All three of these come from quality parenting.
    All three are being destroyed by our poor education system that focuses on victim hood and entitlement vs. opportunity and pursuit of happiness through rigor and hard work.
    Youth role models are letting us down.

  6. I have a grandson who is a junior in high school who could care less about education, doesn’t know how to make change for a dollar and expects everything . We have a given up.

  7. Developing good habits early is key. Much of this wealth inequality is the result of personal habits … debt … living beyond means. There should be much more emphasis on personal finance in the educational system.

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