Millennial Generation is in for a Rough Road

The Millennial Generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, has had the privilege of starting their careers amidst the worst recession since the great depression. Likewise, they have the highest youth unemployment rate of any generation since then and diminished prospects for the future. Despite being the most highly educated generation, youth (age 19-29) unemployment was at 13.1% in January 2013. Only 47.6% of those in that age bracket worked full time.

This trend will have long lasting effects for the Millennials, who may never fully recover from their early job troubles. One study of young Danish workers who were jobless for at least 10 months in 1994 were 15 years later twice as likely to be unemployed and earned 14% ($10,000) less per year than those who were employed as young adults (Economic Council of the Labour Movement). It seems increasingly likely that for the first time in many years, an entire generation will do worse than their parents. The median net worth of people under 35 fell 37% between 2005 and 2010 while those over 65 went down only 13%. The average net worth of someone 29-37 has fallen 21% since 1983, while the average net worth of someone 56-64 has more than doubled.

The Millennial Generation is also burdened with ever increasing debt. In addition to mounting public debt and the burdens of a retiring Baby Boomer Generation, private debt is increasing. The average student carries $12,700 in credit card and other debt according to Forbes. Student loans are averaging $27,000 each. Furthermore, there are little job prospects coming out of college to pay off this debt.

A large amount of recent college graduates are stuck working low paying or minimum wage jobs. There were 284,000 graduates (with at least a bachelors degree) working minimum-wage jobs in 2012, including 37,000 holders of advanced degrees, according to the Labor Department. The amount of college graduates working for an hourly wage is at 13.4 million, up 19% since the start of recession.

Older workers are staying on longer, and this pushes out unproven entrants into the job market. The percentage of the workforce over 55 has risen 7.6% since 2008, and the percentage under 25 has dropped 13.2%. This is pushing many Millennials into the unemployment lines, especially those that do not have advanced degrees. When labor force participation is factored in the youth unemployment rate in the U.S. is 16.2%. The impact is global, with 22.8% youth unemployment in the E.U., and over 50% in Greece and Spain.

Some are calling the Millenials the “screwed” generation. This certainly bears some truth. That isn’t to say that they are blameless in their fate. The generation is characterized by excessive self-confidence and a sense of entitlement, partially a result of the “helicopter” parenting they grew up with. They are frequent job hoppers and are sometimes narcissistic. Their work ethic has been rightfully questioned, and there is a general trend of impatience in working through promotions. The question that remains is whether or not these young adults will figure out a way to pull themselves up, or will todays screwed youth become tomorrow’s screwed world.

Additional Resources

How Stuff Works, How the Millennial Generation Works:

The New York Times, Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World?

The Wall Street Journal, College Grads in Minimum Wage Jobs:

Time Magazine, The Jobless Generation:,9171,2111232,00.html

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Youth Unemployment:

Generation opportunity, Millennial Jobs Report:

Policy Mic, Millennial Unemployment Jumps by a Staggering 2%:

Forbes, 7 Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers:

Pew Research, Who is the Millennial Generation:

U.S.A. Today, Young Adult Stress:

Pew Research, The Millennial Generation:

The Daily Beast, Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?

Pew Research, Milennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.


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