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A peek at American paychecks over 30 years: The ups, downs and surprising turnarounds.
Doug Olsen found his calling early: teaching science to middle schoolers. In 1983, he appeared on the cover of PARADE 's first issue dedicated to American salaries. He stood before a blackboard in Seattle, chalk in hand, 30 years old, earning $18,700 a year. He was happy and hopeful. He said, "I wouldn't dream of doing anything else."
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Since then, America has faced an economic seesaw like few generations have seen. Three major booms and as many busts, unemployment veering from highs and lows not experienced since the Depression, new industries created, new kinds of help wanted, old industries --- and job titles --- relegated to history books.
Like the early 1980s, many of us today wonder what the economy has in store, how jobs will evolve, how salaries will change, and how to best carry on the pursuit of happiness in America.
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To mark its 30th What People Earn report, PARADE contacted hundreds of people previously featured to see how their careers have fared over the years. Many had lost their jobs or quit them, while others had become the boss. Some relocated to find work, others embarked on a new path entirely. Almost all of them faced challenges from an American job market in transition.
[Related: Signs You're in the Wrong Job]
In 1983, Doug Olsen's career goal was to stay in front of a blackboard. Despite tough years of downsizing and restructuring, he achieved it. Three decades later, PARADE found him at the same school. He had recently retired --- at a salary of $58,000 --- and now volunteers there daily. “My passion always has...