Economy Improves for Millennials, Mainly for College Graduates

on November 7, 2016

According to Navient’s Money Under 35 study, young Americans age 22 to 35 are benefiting from the economic recovery, but these benefits are being realized mainly by young Americans with college degrees. However, almost half (48 percent) of college dropouts plan to return to college in the future.

College graduates have experienced gains in full-time employment and increases in income compared to the other groups. They are also more likely to have a higher credit score and own a home (65 percent vs. 42 percent).

The increases in full-time employment from last year are greatest for young Americans with a Bachelor’s degree or more advanced degree.

Median income for a Bachelor’s degree is $62,500, $20,000 more than the median for young Americans with a high school education or less ($42,500) and $25,000 more than the median for college dropouts ($37,500). The median income for advanced degree holders ($95,000) is $32,500 more than for Bachelor’s degree recipients. Income also increases with age, with young Americans aged 28 to 35 having a median income that is almost double the median income of young Americans aged 22 to 27 ($72,500 vs. $38,435).

Nevertheless, there are persistent differences in income between men and women. The median income for men is $30,000 higher than the median income for women ($72,500 vs. $42,500). The gender pay gap decreases significantly, however, for young Americans who majored in STEM, decreasing to just $5,000 ($77,500 vs. $72,500). Men are twice as likely as women to major in STEM fields (52 percent vs. 25 percent).


The Money Under 35 study, which was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Navient, is based on a nationally-representative sample of 3,069 Americans age 22 to 35. 

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