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If you’ve ever sat down to have a conversation with anyone a few decades older than you, there’s no doubt that you’ve had the inevitable conversation about just how inexpensive things used to be. You could get meals for a dollar, rent was negligible, and gas was….okay, well, gas was priced about the same, but that’s beside the point. These numbers made sense though because they corresponded with the much lower wages at the time. If we were to make 1980s money today with 2016 retail pricing, we’d be in real trouble.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what’s happening to Millennial workers. We’re not constantly talking about how thin we’re stretched financially because we like to complain or that we’re lazy and don’t want to work – it’s that Millennial wages are the same today as they were in the 1980’s. No joke. According to a new study by the Center for American Progress, 30-year-olds today make around the same as they would have in 1984. This is even more shocking when you take into account that Millennials today are 50% more likely to have a college degree and the economy is much better than it was in 1984 – 70% better.
In 1984, 30-year-olds could be expected to make an hourly wage of around $18.99, which with the much lower cost of living really isn’t too shabby. While this went up to $20.63 in 2004, we’re now right back where we started at an hourly rate of $19.32. Woof. So the next time you’re at brunch and that one friend absolutely insists on splitting the check by what you ordered, maybe cut her a bit of slack – I hear bottomless mimosas in the 1980s were a lot cheaper. .
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