The popular millennial copypasta goes something like this:
- First experience with serious job hunting comes on the heels of the 2008 financial crisis
- Can't take advantage of correction in home prices because too young to have made any money, and wage growth stagnates anyway
- Homes rocket to new highs, no chance of catching up now by just working a 9-5 like your parents
- Late 20s/early 30s, try investing as it's your last chance to make it
- Get obliterated again by a global pandemic and an actual war in Europe
- Hold the course, keep buying, you're smarter than that!
- Get obliterated again by massive inflation which leads to a gigantic stock market dump wiping out years of gains in weeks with no end in sight
- Oh yeah, and you were dumb enough to buy crypto on top of it all
But it's not just a meme. Millennials (those born between 1980 and the mid-90s) earn less than their parents did at similar points in their lives – less even than pensioners – and their outlook is bleak.
A quarter of a century ago, young adults earned more than national averages – allowing them to have a fulfilling career, buy a house, and start a family – all by the age of 30. Now, in at least seven countries, this same age group is earning at least 20% below that of all other age demographics.
"It is likely to be the first time in industrialized history, save for periods of war or natural disaster, that the incomes of young adults have fallen so far when compared with the rest of society," reports The Guardian.
And it's not just isolated to the United States, this rings true across the globe. The UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Australia – all major economies, major hubs of hungry, talented, creative young adults who simply do not have the means to live their best lives.
It's not a coincidence that governments and NGOs have started to push for something called tiny house living, which normalizes living in small boxes.
Unison's 2019 Affordability Report calculated how long it would take a potential homebuyer to save for a 20% down payment across the country's top metros, and found that it would take 14 years under absolute ideal conditions.
Pulling data from the LIS: Cross-National Data Center, the largest database of international income levels worldwide, The Guardian found that not only are millennials poorer than retired folks, prosperity has plummeted drastically for all millennials across the board, worldwide, and prospects for a recovery look bleak.
This data provides concrete statistical opposition to the oft-heard misplaced accusation that the millennial generation is lazy, lacking work ethic, and expecting rewards in exchange for zero hard work.
No, we are not “hitting our milestones” later because we are entitled children with sloth tendencies, we are hitting them later (or not at all) because they are essentially impossible to hit, financially speaking. We are a cursed generation.
How are we expected to save up for a house when 75-year-olds make more money than us? When with a combined salary of $100K, a couple in their 20’s cannot afford to have careers, kids, and a house? Most importantly, how are we expected to live up to the American Dream when we simply can’t afford it any longer?
The fact that this is not simply an American issue should speak volumes. It is far easier (albeit nonsensical) to blame the "character" of an entire generation than consider the fact that previous gens have totally fucked us over.
For the first time in recorded history, the younger are making less money than the oldest. If we don't do something drastic about it, we could, also for the first time in recorded history, see an age-based revolution.