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Television host Mike Rowe reacted to a new survey that showed about half of Americans in their 30s are earning more than their parents did at a similar age, while in the 1970s that number was 92 percent.

Noting the ups and downs in the economy over the past century-- the Great Depression contrasted with the postwar 'boom'-- Rowe said that it may not be reasonable to assume every generation will out-earn the last one.

He said the country is divided, but not in ways typically discussed:

"We're being divided between optimism and pessimism," Rowe said.

He pointed to the example of a contestant on "American Idol" who may have been told for the first time that he or she could not sing-- not from their peers, but from someone like Simon Cowell.

Rowe said the so-called American dream of living a successful life like one's parents could possibly be attained if the person looked at all fields of opportunity.

"Maybe your dreams would be better served over here," Rowe said, alluding to blue-collar trades in which he declared there are about 5.8 million job openings.

Rowe also discussed the rise of automation, as the Baltimore native recalled working at a local movie theater where his and many of his then-coworkers' jobs are no longer necessary.

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