What Is the Average Millennial Income?

Generational income broken down by race, gender, and more

Woman working from home. Student girl using laptop in her room
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Millennials are a generation that has been noted for their financial struggles, including carrying more debt and facing more difficulties in homebuying than generations before them.

Several factors can contribute to the financial trends among the millennial generation, who are now well into adulthood, including how their income compares to their expenses. Let’s look in more detail about average millennial incomes in different demographics.

Key Takeaways

  • The median income in 2021 for millennials ages 25 to 34 was $74,862.
  • Millennial men tend to earn less on average compared with men from Gen X.
  • Millennial women generally earn more than women from other generations.
  • The median net worth for millennials was $40,100 in 2020.

Average Millennial Income

The exact definition of the millennial generation can vary as there is no official definition. Millennials as defined by Pew Research are those born between 1981 and 1996, or those who were ages 26 to 41 in 2022. The Government Accountability Office sometimes defines millennials as those born between 1982 and 2000, whereas the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses 1981 to 1997. For this reason, it can be difficult to compare data.

The median income for millennials ages 25 to 34 was $74,862 in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People ages 35 to 44 earned a median income of $90,312.


Wealth building includes both income and expenses. The money you have to save and invest is how much is left after you pay for necessities such as housing and food, and any debt you might have.

Income is a key factor in building net worth. The median net worth for millennials was $40,100 in 2020, compared to $149,100 for Gen X and $262,900 for baby boomers. Of course, preceding generations have had more time to build that wealth, but other factors such as debt and income can play a role.

Lower-income millennials generally pay out a disproportionately high share of expenses. For example, they may pay a greater share of their incomes toward student loans. According to a Government Accountability Office study, lower-earning millennials faced student loan debt loads roughly four times greater than their income in 2016, whereas the highest-earning millennials’ debt was equal to about a third of their income.

Millennial Income vs. Other Generations

Much has been made of how millennials' earning abilities compare with their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. However, comparing financial differences between generations is complicated.

Income is only one component of a broader financial picture, and breaking down average incomes by genders can reveal different trends between the generations.

For example, according to a 2019 Stanford study, millennial men tended to earn slightly less than men from previous generations until they reached age 35. Millennial women, on the other hand, tended to earn more than women from any prior generation.

This is just one example of how comparing incomes only across generational groups may not provide the full picture.

Gender Income Gap Among Millennials

In every generation, including among millennials, men and women do not earn equal pay. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, women earned a median of $51,168 compared to $70,525 earned by their males counterparts.

These differences persist despite the fact that millennial women attend college at higher rates than men, Dr. Jordan Conwell, assistant professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, told The Balance. Potential solutions may include policies that create affordable and high-quality childcare that would allow women to reenter the workforce. Anti-discrimination laws and pay-equity policies are other potential solutions to reduce racial and gender disparities in employment and income, Dr. Conwell said.


The COVID-19 pandemic set the women’s labor participation rate back 30 years as women increasingly focused on child and elder care during that time. By February 2021, only 56% of women were working, a rate not seen since April 1987.

Racial Income Gap Among Millennials

Comparing incomes between millennials of different races also reveals different income trends. 

Older millennials (those born in the 1980s), are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. About 57% of older millennials identified as non-Hispanic White in 2020, compared to 81% of people born in the 1940s. They have experienced different trends depending on their race and ethnicity.

From 2007 to 2019, Black families fell further below wealth expectations as Hispanic families made steady improvement. White families, meanwhile, rapidly improved their financial situation between 2013 and 2019.

Differences in income between people of different races can be due to many factors, including “persistent racial inequalities in both opportunities to gain human capital (education and skills) and opportunities to garner returns to that capital in the labor market," Dr. Conwell said.

For example, discrimination in the housing market historically prevented many Black families from buying homes, so in turn, that wealth has flowed to new generations disproportionately. Systemic racism is one reason why the wealth gap among races has continued to widen in recent decades.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do millennials compare to other generations when it comes to spending?

Millennials have less annual expenditures than baby boomers and Gen Xers, but more than the Silent Generation; however, they spend a greater proportion of their income on some key expenses, according to one BLS analysis of 2015 data.

Millennials spend more on housing as a percentage of income (35% in 2015; mostly through rent) compared with baby boomers (30%, mostly through homeownership). Millennials also tended to eat out more, spending 6% of their income on that, whereas baby boomers spent 5%.

How much of the U.S. workforce is made up of millennials?

People ages 25 to 34 made up about 23% of the U.S. workforce in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the total labor force of 161 million people, nearly 36 million were millennials of those ages.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Census Bureau. “Historical Income Tables: People.”

  2. U.S. Census Bureau. “Wealth, Asset Ownership, & Debt of Households Detailed Tables: 2020.”

  3. Pew Research. “Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Gen Z Begins.”

  4. Government Accountability Office. “Millennial Generation.”

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Millennials and the Economy.”

  6. U.S. Census Bureau. “Income in the United States.”

  7. Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. “State of the Union: Millennial Dilemma.”

  8. U.S. Department of Labor. “5 Facts About the State of the Gender Pay Gap.”

  9. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Education.”

  10. The Brookings Institution. “Homeownership, Racial Segregation, and Policy Solutions to Racial Wealth Equity.”

  11. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “Wealth Inequality and the Racial Wealth Gap.”

  12. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Fun Facts About Millennials: Comparing Expenditure Patterns From the Latest Through the Greatest Generation.”

  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Labor Force Statistics From the Current Population Survey.”

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