Fact Check: Posts Claim Average Net Worth of 30-Year-Old in US Is -$1,043. We Looked at the Numbers

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The average net worth of a 30-year-old in the U.S. is -$1,043.


Rating: Outdated
Rating: Outdated

Beginning in the early 2020s, users on social media platforms and discussion forums circulated the claim that the average net worth of a 30-year-old in the U.S. was -$1,043, indicating that people at that age tend to owe more than they own.

For example, in June 2023, an X user posted, "The average net worth of a 30 year old in the US is -$1,043 and I'm the irresponsible one for suggesting people save some money in #Bitcoin." Another account on X posted in December 2022 that "the average net worth of a 30 year old in the USA is negative. It's -$1,043," along with a table supposedly depicting the average net worth by age for millennials, adding, "If you have zero dollars to your name, and no debt, you are wealthy."

(X user @jmrphy)

However, the figure in these posts was likely based on outdated reporting.

The negative number appeared to originate from The College Investor, a website that aims to help young people get out of student loan debt so they can start to build wealth through investing. Since the article first published in 2016, The College Investor has regularly updated its estimates of the net worth of millennials, while also explaining how it came to these numbers by factoring in the graduation year, average salaries of graduates, average student loan debt and average annual saving rates.

In subsequent updates, The College Investor noted that when the article was originally written "there was no data available to figure out millennial net worth. As millennials have aged and even the youngest being in the workforce for a good amount of time, their net worth has been growing, and the data has been increasing. A large amount of our analysis comes from the most recent Federal Reserve Survey on Consumer Finances, which was published in October 2023. This article has been updated to reflect the latest data on millennial net worth." According to the author:

Finally I want to re-emphasize that these are just my estimates. The Federal Reserve data lumps everyone under 35 into one bucket, so while we have some starting points, things can always skew one way or another.

I tried to make these estimates line up with the real data as best as possible, but most real data points exclude negative net worth for millennials buried in student loan debt. For reference, the median of millennial net worth is $10,400. The true geometric average of millennial net worth is actually $75,500 - but that number is heavily skewed by outliers like Mark Zuckerberg.

According to estimates provided by the platform, the average net worth of 30-year-olds in the U.S. has jumped around over the years. In 2016, it was $2,093, while in 2017 it dropped into negative territory, at -$1,989. There it remained until 2021, when it was updated to -$1,043.

Net worth is the total value of everything a person owns — like savings, investments, property and belongings — minus any debts or liabilities, including student debt, car loans and other financial obligations. For younger adults, several factors could contribute to their net worth being in negative territory:

  1. Student loan debt: A 2023 report from the Education Data Initiative indicates that individuals age 30 carry an average student loan debt of $42,822.

  2. Consumer debt: Thirty-year-olds also tend to have substantial credit card debt and auto loans. Experian data revealed that the average credit card balance for the millennial age group of 27 to 42 was $6,521 in 2023.

  3. Low asset accumulation: Young adults typically have had less time to accumulate significant assets such as property, investments or savings. Several reports highlight that millennials have higher debt relative to both their income and assets, compared to previous generations at the same age, likely due to the 2007-08 financial crisis that led to recession.

The latest estimate from The College Investor, in April 2024, reported the average net worth for a 30-year-old was $42,339, with the author noting that "if you're comparing this to past charts, the Federal reserve data has shown significant growth in the older cohorts (42%). Our data aligns with this, as these individuals have likely been working and seeing significant investment gains over the last few years."

When discussing the average net worth of individuals in America, most reputable outlets tend to give an age range rather than a specific age. Recent data from other authoritative outlets indicated that, financially speaking, 30-year-olds are better off than they were a few years ago.

The Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) indicated that, as of 2022, the average net worth for individuals under 35 was considerably lower than for older age groups, at around $183,000. The SCF data also showed that "student debt tends to peak at younger ages, when such investments may be particularly important but also when other measures of economic well-being, like income and wealth, are relatively subdued," which could indeed contribute to a negative net worth for some young adults. Median net worth for that age group — a measure that reduces the impact of extremely wealthy outliers — was $39,040. The survey also showed that from 2019 to 2022, the median and average net worth rose for all age groups.

The claim that the average net worth of a 30-year-old in the U.S. is -$1,043 is based on outdated information that is not currently supported by reputable news and finance outlets. However, the key takeaway is that the average 30-year-old is doing better today than a few years ago.

Snopes has previously fact-checked claims related to debt and finances, including whether 25% of the nation's debt was incurred during the Trump administration, and how the net worths of presidents have changed.


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