The Real Reason Millennials are Struggling

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The Real Reason Millennials are Struggling

“Kids These Days”
It’s a refrain as old as time, but is it based in reality?

Sound Familiar? Every New Generation is Disparaged by the Last

Baby Boomers (b. ~1946-1964)*
December 1979, Washington Post article: “A Sleeping Lion: The ‘Me Generation’ of Nonvoters”
— “This rising generation feels ‘entitled’ to things”
— “Their focus is themselves”
— “They spend more readily for ‘me products’”

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Generation X (b. ~1965-1980)*
July 1990, Time article: “Twentysomething”
— “[T]heir attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial”
— “[T]he latest crop of adults wants to postpone growing up”
— “…considered overly sensitive at best and lazy at worst”

And yet millennials (b. ~1981-1996)* have received even more negative attention than past generations. Why?

Millennial Bashing: A National Pastime

The Most Visible Generation

Social media: Millennials are the first generation to post their every thought and antic online for all to criticize
Online journalism: New analyses of millennials’ faults and shortcomings are published every day
The Most Self-Loathing Generation? Millennials are almost 2X less likely than Gen Xers and 3X less likely than Boomers to describe their own generation as responsible

While millennials face disdain from their elders, they experience real-world struggles their parents and grandparents never imagined

The Real Challenges for Millennials

Student Debt

In the past 15 years, student debt owed by American households tripled
2001: $340 billion
2016: $1.3 trillion

Young Americans with student debt now have negative net wealth
Median net wealth of 25- to 34-year-olds with associates degree or higher and student debt
1989: $89,143
2013: $6,798
2016: -$1,900

The Blame Game: “That’s because they waste money on overeducation.”

Millennials live in a world where a college degree is practically a requirement for employment

Unemployment rate for Americans 25 and older by educational attainment, July 2018
High school diploma: 4%
Associate’s degree: 3.2%
Bachelor’s degree: 2.2%

Education Saturation

Graduates under age 27 working jobs that don’t require a college degree
2000: 38%
2015: 44.6%

The Blame Game: “That’s because they got useless degrees.”

55% of students at less selective colleges pursue career-focused degrees
Compared to 21% of students at elite colleges, where humanities and liberal arts degrees are more popular

Today’s grads focus on business and healthcare

Top 5 majors 1970/71 school year*
Social Sciences / History
English Language and Literature

Top 5 majors 2015/16 school year*
Health professions and related programs (12%)
Social sciences/history (8.4%)
Psychology (6.1%)
Biological and biomedical sciences (6%)

Changing Work Realities

43% of millennials expect to leave their current job within 2 years
Low loyalty levels among those wishing to leave
75% My company doesn’t care about innovation
62% My company only cares about profit
47% My company doesn’t care about societal improvement
The Blame Game: “That’s because they’re lazy.”

Millennials are actually the generation most likely to forfeit vacation time

4 in 10 (43%) “work martyrs” are millennials

Reasons millennials don’t take vacation time
23% Fear what their boss might think
27% Don’t want to be seen as replaceable

Employment trends across the U.S. can’t be blamed on just one group

As of July 2018, for the first time there are more jobs available than people to fill them

Unemployed people: 6.35 million
Job openings: 6.7 million

Construction workers
30% decline in young workers from 2005-2016
Truck drivers
Expected to reach 100,000-worker labor shortage by 2021

Millennials don’t job-hop any more than Gen Xers did at their age

% of 18- to 35-year-olds by length of employment at current job
13 months or more
Millennials in 2016: 63%
Gen Xers in 2000: 60%

5 years or more
Millennials in 2016: 22%
Gen Xers in 2000: 22%

High Housing Costs
In 2016, 15% of 25- to 35-year-old Americans lived in their parents’ home
% of other generations living at home at the same age
Gen Xers in 2000: 10%
Late boomers in 1990: 11%
Early boomers in 1981: 8%

The Blame Game: “That’s because they’re irresponsible.”

In the U.S., median asking rent has almost doubled since 2000
2000: $500
2018: $954

Staying home might just be a more financially responsible decision
Amount young people can save per year in the most expensive U.S. cities by living at home*
San Francisco: $31,390
New York: $28,725
San Jose: $19,547
Los Angeles: $18,309
Chicago: $17,329

New Timeline for Starting a Family
Since 1990, fertility rate in the U.S. has dropped over 13%
Kids come later: More women are having careers and delaying marriage

Median age to have a first child in the U.S.
1994: 23 years old
2016: 26 years old

The Blame Game: “That’s because they’re destroying family values.”

In 2015, it cost an estimated average $233,610 to raise a child from birth through age 17*

Top reasons young adults don’t have as many children as they want
Child care too expensive: 64%
Want more time with the children I have: 54%
Worried about the economy: 49%
Can’t afford more children: 44%

In spite of everything, Millennials believe they have what it takes to succeed in a world of challenges and criticism

Over the next 5 years, almost 80% of young people ages 23-35 from around the world expect their lives to get better