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Generational Economic Frustration - 9/24/14

Every generation of young people suffers their frustrations, but this generation seems to have earned the right to be especially frustrated.  Young families in America are better educated than ever before, but a recent Federal Reserve survey indicates that the median family headed by someone under the age of 35 earned a bit more than $45,500 in 2012.  If one adjusts that figure for inflation, that is 6 percent below what similarly situated families were earning in 1989. 

As noted by writer Floyd Norris, the largest declines have come since the Federal Reserve conducted its 2007 survey of family finances.  Growing up, many young people were assured that if they went to college, their financial future was virtually assured.  Not so fast.  In 1989, the median income of families headed by young college graduates was twice that of similar families headed by high school graduates who had never attended college. 

Now, the difference is only 52 percent, still significant, but an indication that in an increasingly competitive world even a college degree may only get one so far financially.  The 65 to 74 year old age group has recorded the largest gain in real income over the past quarter century, largely because more people are working past the traditional retirement age of 65.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.