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Income Gap Widens Quickly Among Those in 30s and 40s

Article

While the 65-plus age group has the widest income gap, it's growing fastest among 35- to 44-year-olds, which is a bad time in a person's life to fall behind financially.

While an income divide is growing among all age groups, it’s growing fastest among Americans between the ages of 35 and 44, according to Bankrate.com.

While, the 65-plus age group still has the widest income gap, it only rose 3% from 1992 to 2012. The income gap among those in their prime earning years grew 21%, compared to the average of just 10% among all age groups during that time period.

"These are key transition years," Chris Kahn, research and statistics analyst for Bankrate.com, said in a statement. "Some of the reasons why the income gap is growing so rapidly within this age group are persistently high unemployment, as well as stagnant wages. This stagnation in income, combined with rising prices, is making it more challenging for people to stay in the middle class or move up."

According to Bankrate.com, the stock market is playing a large role in the widening income gap. Investors who were already wealthier were able to put more into the stock market and thus have grown richer since the recession.

Typically, gains in housing values also boost wealth, but the market continues to recover at a slow pace. In fact, this age group, particularly, may have taken a hit if they purchased a home just before the recession — they probably lost more home equity than a homeowner who purchased 30 or 40 years ago.

The 35 to 44 age group is a very important financial time as these Americans find a lot of their money gets eaten up in simply maintaining their lifestyle if they have children. However, Jason Flurry, president of Legacy Partners Financial Group, told Bankrate.com that those people who are unable to handle this period well often don’t recover.

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