In “At What Age Do Workers Stop Getting Raises” I write about a dismal finding from the New York Federal Reserve. Most Americans’ earnings peak and plateau in their 40’s. After inflation, their take-home pay declines for their final 15-20 working years.
To make matters worse, many American workers actually experience a decrease in earnings in their 50’s and 60’s. Those who switch jobs later in life receive, on average, a 20% pay cut. Only workers at the very top of the income distribution see large and continuous raises until they retire.
Many personal finance experts recommend elderly workers practice restraint and frugality to protect them from poverty as their earnings fall. Since some of their peers will see extraordinary income gains at these ages, they must resist the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses” and spend beyond their means. To me, this sounds a lot like blaming the victim. Small regulatory changes and better public information about debt, earnings, and retirement could reverse the trend of increasing old-age poverty.