Lawyer Pay

Most workers see wage stagnation after first 10 years; are lawyers an exception?

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Most workers see the biggest pay increases in the first 10 years of their career, followed by years of stagnation, according to a new report.

High earners, such as lawyers, doctors and engineers, are an exception, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog reports. The study used U.S. Social Security Administration data gathered from 1978 to 2010.

Workers with median lifetime earnings saw pay increase 38 percent from age 25 to 55, with the biggest increase in the first decade of work, according to the report (PDF) by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Workers with lifetime pay in the 95th percentile saw a 230 percent increase in the same period, while those in the 99th percentile saw a 1,450 percent increase.

The situation is worse for workers whose pay is in the bottom fifth of earnings; their pay declines from age 25 to 55.

A PayScale study in 2011 drew similar conclusions. It found that “pay essentially goes nowhere after age 40,” when adjusted for inflation. Lawyers, however, had better pay growth than those in most professions. “Lawyers have a typical starting pay of $56,000, but this grows to be over $135,000–a total pay growth of 141 percent,” according to the post at PayScale Career News.

“Furthermore, pay growth for lawyers lasts well into their 50s, which is longer than most jobs.”

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