Are Millennials rich or poor? If I type “Millennials” into Google right now, two articles show up side by side. The first is “70 Percent of Millennials Live Paycheck to Paycheck”; the second is “Millennials, the Wealthiest Generation? Believe It”. But wait a minute … How can both be true? Maybe it’s my Google algorithm playing tricks on me. Or maybe it’s a snapshot of the media’s obsession with our wallets.
The truth is, in their short journey in the adult world, Millennials have endured two recessions. As a result, the dynamics of success and family building have changed. But many media outlets try to either shine a light on the issues or hit them with a positive spin to convince us life isn’t so bad after all. But really, if you take a step back, you’ll realize that these articles are arguing the same thing.
Inflated prices of housing and education
Let’s look at the “paycheck to paycheck” discussion. With 70% of Millennials living paycheck to paycheck, you could argue that they are not rich. The rising prices of housing and education have disrupted their life plans. They have the lowest homeownership rate of any generation, and they can’t seem to save up enough to get ahead in the market.
The “Generational wealth gap”
Now let’s look at the “Millennials are the wealthiest generation” argument. They dive right into how different the adult trappings of a Millennial look. Many are renting, starting families later in life, etc. But this perspective discusses how Millennials are earning enough money to grow a family and buy a home in such an expensive era. Relative to generations before us, Millennials are making more money than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers at the same age: It’s a generational wealth gap. If the housing market and education prices ever go down to where they’re supposed to be, our entire generation will be set. However, that’s a massive “if.”
The real issues
So, are Millennials rich or poor? At the end of the day, we don’t have to label them. We have to solve the issues that are plaguing our financial journeys. The housing market is insane. College costs too much. We can’t find a job with our uber-expensive bachelor’s degrees. Please help.
For more on Millennial economics, check this out.