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Earnings of Men Aged 20–59, 1988–2018

Released: May 2021

DEFINITION: Earnings consist of all wages, salaries, and self-employment income in covered and noncovered employment, including earnings that exceed the annual taxable maximum.

Chart. Title: Real Median Annual Earnings of Men Aged 20-59, 1988-2018 (in 2018 dollars). Line chart with tabular version below.
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Table equivalent for chart: Real Median Annual Earnings of Men Aged 20–59, 1988–2018 (in 2018 dollars)
Year Aged 20–29 Aged 30–39 Aged 40–49 Aged 50–59
1988 26,949 51,156 64,546 62,037
1989 26,453 50,057 63,285 61,010
1990 25,413 48,063 61,167 58,972
1991 23,749 46,146 59,204 57,408
1992 23,355 46,111 59,087 58,225
1993 23,142 45,097 57,906 57,524
1994 23,335 44,805 57,162 57,535
1995 23,752 44,626 56,773 57,633
1996 23,946 44,639 56,173 57,784
1997 24,627 45,387 56,213 58,691
1998 25,851 46,854 57,070 59,899
1999 26,403 47,759 57,246 60,203
2000 26,640 48,255 57,154 59,713
2001 25,822 48,204 56,440 58,948
2002 25,042 48,191 56,000 58,572
2003 24,531 48,087 55,671 58,030
2004 24,435 48,395 55,905 58,087
2005 24,547 48,440 55,624 57,780
2006 24,805 48,702 55,800 57,603
2007 24,616 48,382 55,661 57,116
2008 24,000 47,348 54,940 56,050
2009 22,567 46,079 53,700 54,765
2010 21,629 45,410 53,658 54,599
2011 21,396 44,927 53,811 54,613
2012 21,385 44,554 53,594 54,500
2013 21,703 44,928 54,245 54,827
2014 22,302 45,227 55,021 55,318
2015 23,368 46,542 56,642 56,767
2016 23,970 46,738 56,923 56,700
2017 24,520 46,974 56,782 56,647
2018 25,507 47,895 57,779 57,518
  • Overall, men aged 20–59 experienced a decline in real median annual earnings over the 31-year time period from 1988 through 2018.
  • For all age groups, real median annual earnings—
    • were higher in 1988 than in any subsequent year,
    • declined from 1988 through 1998 and increased from 2008 through 2018, and
    • were lowest in 2012, shortly after the Great Recession of 2007–2009.
  • From 1998 through 2008, real median annual earnings fell for all age groups except men aged 30–39, who experienced a slight increase.
Change in Real Median Annual Earnings (in 2018 Dollars)
Time span Aged 20–29 Aged 30–39 Aged 40–49 Aged 50–59
1988–2018 −$1,443
−5.4%
−$3,261
−6.4%
−$6,767
−10.5%
−$4,519
−7.3%
1988–1998 −$1,098
−4.1%
−$4,302
−8.4%
−$7,477
−11.6%
−$2,138
−3.4%
1998–2008 −$1,851
−7.2%
$494
1.1%
−$2,130
−3.7%
−$3,849
−6.4%
2008–2018 $1,507
6.3%
$547
1.2%
$2,840
5.2%
$1,468
2.6%
 

SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Continuous Work History Sample.

NOTES: Earnings are indexed to 2018 values based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

Includes workers with annual earnings equal to or greater than one earnings credit. In 2018 dollars, the earnings required to earn a single credit were $998 in 1988, $1,078 in 1998, $1,225 in 2008, and $1,320 in 2018.