The rising federal debt could reduce the real income for a 4-person family by as much as $16,000, on average, in 2048

Our generation is the most educated on record, with record levels of college graduates.

But while today’s young adults are earning bachelor’s degrees at sharply higher rates than previous generations, incomes haven’t grown nearly as much. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, young adults’ median incomes have barely budged over the past five decades.


Meanwhile, today’s 25- to 38-year-olds hold fewer assets than people who were in that age group in the late 1980s and early 1990s – even as Americans overall have improved their standing relative to that time period.

Jobs and Income Graphic 2

In 1989, the median value of assets held by 25- to 38-year-old households was nearly $75,000 (in 2019 dollars) – a figure that rose to about $142,000 in 2007, amid the U.S. housing bubble. By 2019, however, median assets for 25-to-38-year-old households had plunged to only about $90,000.

One way to brighten the outlook: Address our national debt. Absent action, the national debt will reduce the income of a four-person family by $16,000, on average, in 2048, according to a 2018 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

What’s more, this income stagnation and decline in assets comes as the next generation faces ever-rising student debt loads.