High debt-to-income ratios and delayed life events press on budgets of older millennials
Andrea Pica started earning more in her mid-30s. She said a large chunk of the extra money has gone to child care.
The oldest millennials are approaching a new money milestone: their high-earning years.
After two recessions and a world-changing pandemic, the arrival of the high-earning years for millennials born in the 1980s are around the corner. Yet data suggest this phase of life might not provide the financial security other generations found at the same age.
With a higher debt-to-income ratio and other financial obligations already pressing on their budgets, some millennials entering their high-earning years have delayed homeownership and family formation, said Lowell R. Ricketts, a data scientist for the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
“In perspective, you can kind of understand how the millennial generation is a microcosm of the K-shaped recovery that we’re seeing and also just the divergence in wealth overall,” Mr. Ricketts said. “I think you have to factor in the labor market changes over time as well, but there’s a kind of more of a sense of insecurity, even though you might be now earning a high salary or wage, that might not be guaranteed tomorrow.”
Workers hit their peak median weekly earnings between the ages of 35 and 54, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After that period, individual earnings typically decrease or plateau, but workers experience the greatest gain in earnings when they jump from the 25-to-34 to the 35-to-44 age bracket.