Why Millennials Aren't Happy About Their Financial Prospects

January 15th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

Millennials are saddled with seemingly unprecedented student loan debt and feel that their financial prospects are worse than those of earlier generations.

New research confirms that Millennials — the largest and best-educated generation — are indeed doing worse financially than the baby boomer generation before them.

Millennials — defined as people who are 25 to 34 years old — made about $10,000 less on average in 2013 than did similarly aged young adults in 1989, according to a new report from Young Invincibles, a Millennial advocacy group. (That's accounting for inflation.)

This substantial gap means Millennials are earning about 20 percent less on average than their counterparts in the baby boom generation (defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the generation born between 1946 and 1964; i.e., your parents.)

The report, "Financial Health of Young America: Measuring Generational Declines between Baby Boomers & Millennials," is only the latest evidence that productivity has risen and wages have fallen in the United States.

As a result, Millennials will be less able to invest in such traditional assets as homes and cars, not to mention families, childcare and the rest of it.

If Millennials continue to lag earlier generations in personal wealth, that could have profound consequences for the national economy and the American way of life.

Luckily, there are signs that spending on such items as cars is up among Millennials; they simply took longer because their wages are low and they carry a lot of student and other debt.

To address the wage gap, the Young Invincibles' report suggests policy changes, including lifting the federal minimum wage and easing the hurdles that young adults face when trying to become homeowners.