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’”

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