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Americans may struggle for another five years as buying power shrinks more, report says

If you found it increasingly hard to make ends meet over the past five years, it’s probably only going to get worse, according to new research.

Over the past five years, 97% of occupation’s salaries have failed to keep up with inflation, said personal finance platform Moneywise, which analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Federal Housing Agency (FIFA) and Redfin to find out how salaries have kept up. It found average salaries have fallen 8.2% as home prices rose an average of 56%.

And it likely won’t get much better. Of the 20 most common jobs in America, only one – waitstaff - is expected to see an increase in salary after adjusting for inflation by 2028, it said.

“If things don't change soon, the pain and pressure of inflation, rising cost of living, and soaring housing costs will lead to a significant reduction in purchasing power for Americans in nearly every occupation and industry,” said MoneyWise research analyst Nick Rizzo.

Which jobs will lose the most purchasing power by 2028?

The top five occupations that will see their adjusted salaries shrink most, according to MoneyWise, are:

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Elementary school teachers:

  • 2023 median salary: $64,290

  • 5 year salary change adjusted for inflation: -11.59%

  • 2028 projected salary: $56,504

Accountants:

  • 2023 median salary: $79,880

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -10.51%

  • 2028 projected salary: $71,485

Administrative assistants:

  • 2023 median salary: $46,010

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -8.47%

  • 2028 projected salary: $42,113

Registered nurses:

  • 2023 median salary: $86,070

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -7.82%

  • 2028 projected salary: $79,339

General maintenance workers:

  • 2023 median salary: $46,700

  • 5-year change adjusted for inflation: -7.55%

  • 2028 projected salary: $43,174

What jobs will fare the best?

The five occupations MoneyWise expects to retain most of, or add to their purchasing power are:

Waitresses and waiters:

  • 2023 median salary: $31,940

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: +1.73%

  • 2028 projected salary: $32,493

Food preparation workers:

  • 2023 median salary: $32,420

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -0.36%

  • 2028 projected salary: $32,303

Retail sales workers:

  • 2023 median salary: $33,900

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -1.25%

  • 2028 projected salary: $33,476

Cashiers:

  • 2023 median salary: $29,720

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -1.48%

  • 2028 projected salary: $29,280

Customer sales representatives:

  • 2023 median salary: $39,680

  • 5-year salary change adjusted for inflation: -3.23%

  • 2028 projected salary: $38,398

How inflation affects our lives: The hidden price of inflation: High costs disrupt life in more ways than we can see

But isn’t inflation dropping?

Yes, inflation has been cooling for the past year, but that may not be enough to reverse the trend.

“If the economy does improve as a whole, then we will for sure start to see a slow reversal in this trend, but even if inflation were to come down, considering rising house prices, ongoing conflicts, stagnant salaries, and the boogeyman that is job loss due to AI (artificial intelligence), the deck seems stacked against the vast majority of Americans to ever get back to where they were anytime soon,” Rizzo said.

“And for some occupations and industries, it's possible they never do, considering the breakneck speed of development and evolution of AI continuing to be integrated directly into businesses, whether that's to assist employees or replace them,” he said.

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at mjlee@usatoday.com and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.   

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Americans' buying power to erode further, report says