They’ve been called spoiled and entitled, but millennials may not be in nearly the advantaged position many think.
Millennials may be the first generation ever to have lower lifetime earnings than their predecessors, which is “in contrast to the taken-for-granted promise that each generation will do better than the last,” according to a report released this week by the U.K.-based think tank Resolution Foundation.
Indeed, the typical millennial in the U.K., which the think tank defines as aged 15 to 35, earned about 8,000 pounds (the equivalent of around $10,600) less during their 20s than did those in Generation X.
And this data isn’t the first to show that the millennial generation may be worse off than their predecessors, at least in some ways. In the U.S., more millennials than older generations graduate with student loan debt, and they tend to have more of it.
That may help explain why a significantly higher percentage of American millennials have student loan debt than older generations, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. (Of course, part of this is also that the older generations have had a longer time to pay down their debt.)
Not only do millennials have lots of student loan debt, but they’re also not making much more than the previous generation. And that’s true even when you compare people ages 25 to 34 now (these are a subset of the millennial generation) vs. those we were ages 25-34 15 years ago with the same levels of education.
Millennials are also far less likely to own a home than previous generations — despite the fact that a number of surveys show that they want to, according to a 2014 survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 carried out by the Demand Institute, a New York-based nonprofit think tank jointly operated by the Conference Board and Nielsen.
They’re also more likely to live with their parents than some past generations, thanks in part to weak job prospects and high student loan payments. For the first time in 130 years, young adults are more likely to live with their parents than with their partners, Pew Research Center data released earlier this year shows.
Still, there are plenty of ways millennials are likely to be better off than previous generations. Generation X, are the most likely to have debt: 89% of Gen Xers have debt, compared with 86% of millennials. Gen Xers also have more total debt ($103,800 versus $46,000) according to data released last year from The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pa. And Gen Xers have more credit card debt — which, thanks to high interest rates is often one of the most costly kinds of debt — than millennials, defined by this group as those born between 1965 and 1980. Some 44% of Gen Xers have credit card debt and the median amount is $5,000 compared with 39% and $2,500 for millennials.