Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997, were hit particularly hard by the Great Recession. Because of that downturn, the people who created trap music, Snapchat and Justin Bieber’s success have also had to delay their lives by years as milestones like purchasing a home and getting married became less than financially impractical. And though millennials have generally been brandished and dismissed with labels like entitled, lazy and whiny, the fact of the matter is, they’re not the generation who is responsible for the piss-poor conditions they’re now forced to trudge through. That blame can be directed toward Baby Boomers. Gee, thanks, mom and dad!
Here’s some depressing data that proves just how maligned millennials are: Not only did the majority of millennials graduate from high school or college when the financial crisis was at its worst, but the average student loan debt has more than tripled in the last two decades. “Millennials are disproportionately more likely to start their economic life in debt and also carry higher amount of debt than [the] previous generation,” Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at the George Washington University School of Business told CBS News. According to New York Federal Reserve Board data, the educational debt of Americans under the age of 30 has increased from about $13,000 to $21,000 since 2005. By 2012, Americans’ educational debt reached more than $1 trillion total.
These days, a college degree is no longer an option; it’s a requirement. A Pew survey data found that millennials with at least a bachelor’s degree will earn almost $20,000 more annually than millennials with only a high school degree. And while higher education offers prospects of higher income, the cost of that education is delaying the generation’s entry to the housing market, which is a major contributor to the overall economy. It’s a vicious cycle that is seemingly ceaseless. We’re all doomed, I tell you. Doomed!
As a result of these heaping debts, the homeownership rate for millennials dropped 37 percent from 2004 to 2011. The virtually non-existent labor market, combined with lower incomes and higher debt levels are forcing the postponement of major decisions among young adults that will affect them for years to come. As such, millennials have deduced that living with their parents is their only option. Thirty-two percent of millennials are still living with the folks, according to Pew Research Center.
Because of this debt, millennials have learned to be more savvy spenders. Data from TD Bank’s Consumer Spending Index found that Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers spend about $32,000 annually on luxury items while millennials spend $26,000. According to these numbers, millennials actually made more purchases on retail goods and dining, we just don’t spend as much money at each outing. In other words: four-course dinners aren’t in our budget; GrubHub and McD’s Dollar Menu, however, is.
So how much are millennials making? According to data provided by Business Insider, outside of the nation’s capital, the median income of millennials doesn’t exceed $26,000. Back in the 1980s, when millennials’ parents were 25-34 years old, their median income $40,560. So instead of harping on millennials for being lazy and lethargic, perhaps offering some sympathy for your impact on our bleak financial future is in order.