How Much Does the Average American Make? It Depends on Their Age

By: Lauren | Published: Dec 12, 2023

Most Americans get up every day and go to work to make the money they need to live in an ever-increasingly expensive world. 

And many wonder if the money they are making is “average” and, in general, what their co-patriots are taking home every year. But it’s important to understand that the average American salary varies drastically depending on several factors, including one’s age. 

Teens in the Word Force

Many teenagers in the US have jobs that they go to after school or on the weekends. For some, this is just a little extra spending money, whereas, for others, it’s college savings or support for their family.

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Teenager in an apron working at a coffee shop

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On average, a fully employed teenager between the ages of 16 and 19 makes about $32,396 a year, depending on where they are employed. 

Working Through College

Not everyone goes to college, and even of those, not everyone works full time while studying.

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Woman graduating from college with her diploma in hand

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However, with the wide variety of employment options available for people aged 20 to 24, the average person in this age group will make $38,324 annually. 

The Big Jump

The biggest increase in annual salary happens in the next age group, Americans from 25 to 34. 

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Man sitting at a computer desk with a nervous expression

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For young Millennials and Gen Zers who have a few years in the workforce, the average salary is $52,832. And while this is certainly more than the less than $40,000 the younger group makes, it’s still quite low compared to the country’s cost of living. 

Peak Earning Years

Experts consider the years between 35 and 44 as “peak earning years,” as this is usually when people earn more annually and can start saving for their futures. 

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Woman on the phone and computer with two children next to her

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And on average, a person aged 35-44 in the USA currently makes $62,608 every year. Again, more than they would have a decade before, but still far less than the top earners.

Salaries May Plateau in the Next Decade

Some Americans absolutely do see their salaries increase as they reach their 50s, but many reported that their income actually plateaued.

A 50-something man working on a computer in a cafe

Source: Freepik

And according to the data, the average income for someone aged 45 to 54 is $62,400, which is actually $200 less than those ten years younger. 

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Most Salaries Drop Significantly in the Later Years

Unless a person is working in an extremely specialized field or owns their own successful business, it’s quite common for salaries to decrease significantly once a person passes 55.

A 60-something doctor holding a clipboard and phone

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The average income for someone aged 55 to 64 in the United States is only $61,204. And some say that companies keep this number as low as possible in order to encourage their elderly employees to retire early.

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For Those Still Working Past 65, Incomes Are Low

While most people past the age of 65 choose to work part-time or simply stay engaged and active, the truth is that even those who are employed make much less than their younger counterparts. 

Elderly man going over a map with a young student

Source: Freepik

In fact, the average annual salary for employed Americans over the age of 65 is only $54,444.

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What to Do to Make a Salary Last

The truth is that with inflation, rent prices, housing costs, grocery price tags, and even gas, many Americans who make an average salary may struggle to save throughout the year.

Man typing numbers from receipts into a calculator

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However, it’s more important than ever for those who are in the early years of employment to save as much as they can because, as this data shows, incomes peak and then seriously decline later.

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Understanding Budget & Debt

It’s crucial that anyone attempting to save not only creates a healthy and doable budget for themselves according to their income but also ensures that they do not fall too far into debt.

Hand circling the word “Debt” in a notebook while typing numbers into a calculator

Source: Freepik

Financial experts recommend paying off high-interest loans and credit cards as soon as possible and creating an emergency account as soon as possible after becoming employed. 

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Get Those Taxes Right

Taxes are certainly frustrating, and it’s painful every year, but there are ways that someone can pay less if they know how to work the system.

Tax paperwork with a pen and glasses

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Although hiring a tax accountant may cost money at the moment, it could mean big savings over the years since the taxes will absolutely be done correctly. 

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Save Smart & Watch the Money Grow

The truth is that no matter what someone makes, the best possible way to stay afloat financially is to invest well, save what they can, and ensure their taxes are filled out properly. 

Woman holding a piggy bank and adding money to it

Source: Freepik

As the data shows, the average American income doesn’t increase significantly over the years, so do as the experts say and save now.

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