Why Millennials Are Behind: They Earn 20% Less Than Boomers Did At The Same Age

Tyler Durden's picture

Over the past few years, as the Millennial generation has grown into its own, in 2016 surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation's largest living generation according to the Census (Americans aged 18-34 in 2015 now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers aged 51-69), in the process becoming the fulcrum support of the US economy, it has also prompted many questions: why aren't Millennials investing in the stock market? Why aren't they starting families and buying houses? Why are they living in their parents' basements well into their thirties? Why don't they just... spend?

The latest answer to all these questions came yesterday following a new analysis of Fed data by the Young Invincibles group, according to which with a median household income of $40,581, despite being better educated, millennials now earn 20% less than boomers did at the same stage of life in 1989, who earned $50,910 some 25 years ago.

The analysis released on Friday shows other disturbing trends, which confirm that America's troubling generational divide is all too real and helps explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Some examples: millennials have half the net worth of boomers; their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.

The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

Andrea Ledesma, 28, says her parents owned a house and were raising kids by her age. Not so for her.

Ledesma graduated from college four years ago. After moving through a series of jobs, she now earns $18,000 making pizza at Classic Slice in Milwaukee, shares a two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and has $33,000 in student debt.

"That's not at all how life is now, that's not something that people strive for and it's not something that is even attainable, and I thought it would be at this point," Ledesma said.

Her mother Cheryl Romanowski, 55, was making about $10,000 a year at her age working at a bank without a college education. In today's dollars, that income would be equal to roughly $19,500. Romanowski said she envies the choices that her daughter has in life, but she acknowledged that her daughter has it harder than her. "I think the opportunities have just been fading away," she said.

The Fed data shows the extent of the decline. It compared 25 to 34 year-olds in 2013, the most recent year available, to the same age group in 1989 after adjusting for inflation. Education does help boost incomes. But the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989.

The home ownership rate for this age group dipped to 43 percent from 46 percent in 1989, although the rate has improved for millennials with a college degree relative to boomers. The median net worth of millennials is $10,090, 56 percent less than it was for boomers.

While whites still earn dramatically more than Blacks and Latinos, reflecting the legacy of discrimination for jobs, education and housing. Yet compared to white baby boomers, some white millennials appear stuck in a pattern of downward mobility. This group has seen their median income tumble more than 21% to $47,688. Median income for black millennials has fallen just 1.4 percent to $27,892. Latino millennials earn nearly 29 percent more than their boomer predecessors to $30,436.

The analysis fits into a broader pattern of diminished opportunity. Research last year by economists led by Stanford University's Raj Chetty found that people born in 1950 had a 79 percent chance of making more money than their parents. That figure steadily slipped over the past several decades, such that those born in 1980 had just a 50 percent chance of out-earning their parents.

This decline has occurred even though younger Americans are increasingly college-educated. The proportion of 25 to 29 year-olds with a college degree has risen to 35.6 percent in 2015 from 23.2 percent in 1990, a report this month by the Brookings Institution noted.

The declining fortunes of millennials could impact boomers who are retired or on the cusp of retirement. Payroll taxes from millennials helps to finance the Social Security and Medicare benefits that many boomers receive, programs that Trump has said won't be subject to spending cuts. And those same boomers will need younger generations to buy their homes and invest in the financial markets to protect their own savings.

"The challenges that young adults face today could forecast the challenges that we see down the road," said Tom Allison, deputy policy and research director at Young Invincibles.

For now, despite Obama's recurring narrative of an economic "recovery" which unfortunately skipped some 75.4 million Americans, and despite Trump's promises that he will somehow make it batter, it remains unclear just how this most important US generation will emerge from its demographic and economic doldrums.

Source: Financial Health of Young America: Measuring Generational Declines between Baby Boomers & Millennials

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wisehiney's picture

I know a few bad ass hard working go getter millennials.

But most of them have been socialist indoctrinated to think the world owes them something.

So sad that they would be deprived of a sense of self worth and happiness.

yrad's picture

They also work 20% less.

Cry baby snowflake SJW pussys.

They are all over my office. Most will be gone in a year.

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) yrad Jan 14, 2017 11:24 AM

work harder...snowflake around less... Get your face out of your fone... (oh, and maybe learn how to 'fix' something). Someday you may thank me for this advice.

max2205's picture

They could gave been bankers instead of bakers.....

Looney's picture


I betcha, Andrea Ledesma wanted to become an Art Gallery owner, a Shoe Critic, or a Polar Bear researcher in California.  ;-)


TheElder's picture

While they may earn 20% less, they also learned 80% less in school. It's amazing how little many of them actually know about anything that matters...

wee-weed up's picture

They drank the Koolaid and then Obozo fucked 'em.

tmosley's picture

Suspect that if you were to use constant dollars from shadowstats the figures would be even worse.

This is a crime of the highest order. Those responsible should HANG for it.

Stainless Steel Rat's picture
Stainless Steel Rat (not verified) tmosley Jan 14, 2017 11:49 AM

You ain't lived until you've had a hummer from someone with green hair!

(Admittedly, the phone kinda gets in the way.)

Stackers's picture

Here's a thought: Start dressing and doing your hair like an adult instead of a 22 year old college hippy and you might have a better chance of getting an adult job.

WestVillageIdiot's picture

This whole article is bullshit.  Why don't they include Asians in their numbers?  We all know why they don't include Asians.  Because Asians make more than white people do.  That fact would blow away all of their racist bullshit that they include in their entire premise. 

divingengineer's picture

Not sure, but I think they quit tracking Asians separately.

They get no hiring preference now, I know for a fact.

----_-'s picture

tyroon sits on welfare and demands shit, everyone around him is fault, white people are fault, mother is fault, father is fault, school is fault, society is fault everyone is fault. then his fat whale sister gets pregnant by 6 different guys and there you go: 6 of them sit on welfare, mother doesnt work becuase she is too fat. white people work and pay taxes. taxes go to israel and and are spent by retards like the upcoming (((trump/kushner))) administration on warmongering with iran and russia. and the remaining few pennis are used on tyroon, his fat whale sister and her 6 children who are as much as productive as tapeworm.

HappyDeathMetal's picture

If I was a US citizen, I would be more concerned about how much your government spends on the military. More than half of your tax dollars go to military which is way more than anything else. The US is the military arm of the worldwide globalist elite. They want you guys fighting with and blaming each other instead of looking at the roots of the problems; divide and conquer.

FredFlintstone's picture

It is all a concern. We are no longer a moral society. There is not a lot of hope.

Ballin D's picture

I just sat on a call where the liberal senior management of the group was openly talking about how to find a highly specialized new hire who isn't a white male. They were definitely giving preference to some Chinese and Indians who both fall into that bucket. 

divingengineer's picture

Well, I meant for public jobs.

I'm sure libs will prefer them to a honkey for any position.

Never One Roach's picture

Asian not only DO NOT get any prefrence, they are thrown further in the back of the bus then even white folks.

Kaplan testing service did some reasearch and found that Asians need to score 40% higher then blacks and 20% higher then crackas to be admitted to most Ivee Leegue colleges. Discrimination against them is now fierce due to these libtards. I know many who are changing their names so they receive more fair treament.


I can't blame them.

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Never One Roach Jan 15, 2017 9:10 AM

Harvard 49% white, 25% are Jews.

They hide in the white pool.

30% Asian.

So Harvard from most to least






Bunga Bunga's picture

Look like the fat and ugly adult in the picture and you will take his job.

JRobby's picture

If you are a fat fuck like the guy pictured in your avatar, it helps too.

It used to be that people who were attractive, ate right and exercised where favored hires because they are conscientious, energetic and don't miss work due to illness.

But now there are so many fat fucks, and they hire in their own image so the attractive people are shunned. Plus it helps to be a whining entitlement shit bag. You put fat fuck together with whining entitled,  you get a median, mediocre hire that you don't ever need to worry about showing you up in front of the boss. And you have someone who may possibly have more phobias and problems than you do. A win-win.

kizell's picture

I love how the picture supporting the headline is some dork with blue hair.  A person 90% of my millennial friends would either laugh at or ignore as irrelevant.  It's obvious ZH is not above propaganda. 

And then I read the comments of how sorry young people are.  The same argument their parents made about them when they were hippies no doubt.  As a generation that was given everything, they certainly think a lot of themselves.  So much so that they are being just their parents, unoriginal in their arguments against the younger generation. 

I'm 34 and make 6 figures.   And while I do have significant student loan debt, I put in over 50 hours a week and never miss a chance for extra pay.  So to every entitled baby boomer looking down on me, from the bottom of my heart, suck my dick and burn in hell.

BarkingCat's picture

come to Seattle and you will see that a huge percentage of the millenials fit that stereotype.

you will also see their idiotic parents and realize why the children are so fucked up.

There is nothing like seeing a 50 year old woman with blue or pink streaks in her hair sporting a new colorful tattoo on her sagging tits and a ring through her nose.

general ambivalent's picture

Yeah, and all the trumptards are ignoring that the alt-right, which supported their hero, is mainly a movement of this generation they hate. Those who 'hate work' put an awful lot of work into trying to think outside of the (iPhone or Samsung) box (yeah, we know you love the millennial gadgets).

JRobby's picture

Yet you are bitter and unhappy?

Maybe go on an eating binge?

3rdWorldTrillionaire's picture

50 hours?! The horror... I'm 34, employ 60 people and make 7 figures. Try harder...

Okienomics's picture

Damn, too bad you won't be able to sell/give awa Obamacare and Obamaphones much longer.

WhiteErmine's picture

My husband would agree with much of your last statement. 

He works very hard, but more importantly, he uses his brain and NEVER misses an opportunity to show people in higher positions what he's capable of doing.  He raises obvious (to him) issues of concern to them, developes a plan of action, and if he can get it by the beancounters, implements it.  Recently, his latest proposition for backup plan B will most likely keep the plant manager from having 9 kinds of hell dished on him from parent company/board members, state, and federal agencies as well as being instantly fired, as it will prevent a nasty little disaster from occuring.  My husband is in his mid-30's.  He keeps doing this, they'll move him up in that food chain, and better pay.  He wouldn't be doing this well if he were inclined to whine and bitch about who's job it really is, never took initiative and make smart decisions, or arrived consistently late as the younger hirees have done. From what I've seen, the Millennial age range come in two flavors:  people like you and my guy, and the flip side who are so bland they make vanilla pudding seem exciting.  Those who are decisive, such as yourself, will be the ones that survive.  The job market is highly competitive and there just aren't the jobs there used to be before technology really took its leaps and bounds.  Vanilla pudding won't  get far.

LyLo's picture

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” 

Fucking Socrates, right there.  The kids are gonna be alright, just like every other generation ever.  (Though we are bastards for gobbling up the dainties...)

FredFlintstone's picture

No, it goes in cycles. Socrates was softer than those in the Dark Ages. Every generation is softer than the one before it until it all falls apart and then at the depths, the ones that are left need to get very HARD or they do not survive.

Bwana's picture

I'm a baby boomer and I am glad to see a millennial with the attitude necessary to succeed. I am an employer and I see so many young college graduates who have no courage, fortitude or what appears to be faith in themselves and their abilities. They present themselves as cowering whipped dogs. For many of them it is almost impossible to assume good posture. On the other hand every once in a while I run into a millennial who is properly groomed, stands up strait like a man or a woman and has the clear eyes, aggressiveness and thought process of a person who does not do drugs. By the way a lot of us weren't hippies, didn't do any drugs and paid for our education ourselves by working while attending college.

Xibalba's picture

Ever since this blog got farmed out to those millennials , it's gone to absolute SHIT. 

FredFlintstone's picture

Be careful of the piercings, you don't want a laceration.

yrad's picture

It's pedophilia..

Every Boomer on Earth fucked their grandkids.

Handful of Dust's picture

Obamanonics works!


"Yes we can!"

chiquita's picture

Makes me even happier I never had kids.  Fuck all you ingrates!

MFL5591's picture

The vast majority of Milleniums have a poor work ethic and are used to Daddy and Mommy handiing them things!

shovelhead's picture

I noticed they conveniently left out her course of study that would enhance her value to the marketplace.

And we also have to accept that minority earnings are the result of racism and discrimination rather than examine the skill-set levels they bring to employers.

I'm afraid I'm not impressed by the work presented by these "Young Invincibles". It looks to me like it was iPhoned in with a steaming pile of victimology angst as a garnish.   

yrad's picture

+1 to the English major.

shovelhead's picture

Nope. I had to work for a living.

JRobby's picture

You communicate well which obviously shocked the traffic control apparatus.

Great riff with the garnish.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

BS Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.

That qualified me to go to graduate school, or wash glassware for $36,000 annually. If you're lucky, you might actually even get to poison some ferrets for a pharmaceutical company for that $36K. That is, if you're even lucky enough to get one of the three dozen positions in the country that need a chemist's actual chemistry skills. Oh yeah, and you're going to be competing with HB1s and prior generations with half your life time of experience and advanced degrees. Even with a PhD, if you can land an in-industry job--60K with good benefits is where your dreams shall end.

The demand for STEM is over-rated, and the ROI is comparatively poor compared to many BA degrees. Mechanical engineering is a bit different. Then again, of all of the engineers I knew in college (most of my friends) only one of them is actually doing engineering work--and that's for the MIC. Everyone else is in sales.

FredFlintstone's picture

I remember the kids wanting to be the Marine Biologist or Forest Ranger. I always fanticized about sitting them down with them and doing some math. Like "how many Sea Worlds do you think are in the world"? "How many Marine Biologists do you think they each have on staff"? "How many Marine Biology graduates are there per year"?

All of those girls wanted to ride Shamu.

vealparm's picture

Looney.....Very true, the article doesn't tell us what her degree was in. Anthropology, Animal Husbandry, Womens Studies, Climate Change in the 21st Century??????

And why is she graduating at age 24? Five, six years in school? How many hours a days did she spend on her I-phone? I don't feel sorry for her at all. Life is about a series of choices we make which send us on a path to success/prosperity.

My son is 2 years older than Ms Ledsma, graudated in 4 years, majored in Criminal Justice, works for the government and made $85K last year in a low-pay state. If he was in NY, NJ, Cali or IL he would be over $100K.......Oh, and he paid off his student loans already and owns a home with wife and baby.

The Saint's picture

Obama's economy of burger flippers doesn't allow for advancement to higher paying jobs.  Millenials are trapped by design and they got what they voted for.  Enjoy your free iPhone, kids.


Handful of Dust's picture

"If you want to keep your robust economy, you can keep your robust economy. I promise!"

GreatUncle's picture

A million kids with degrees and only the need for 1 with the qualification.

Pizza or burger flipping for the rest and the economy has been supported so well by incurring the debt.

But these millennials would voted for more of the same, so stop complaining.