Aug 27, 2019 - Economy

Millennials aren't ready for recession

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The American dream is on hold.

By the numbers: Millennial homeownership is 8 percentage points lower than previous generations at this age. Student debt is at $1.5 trillion, with defaults rising. Just 37% of Americans under 35 owned stocks last year, vs. 55% in 2001.

The big picture: "The net worth of your average Millennial household is 40 percent lower than for Gen X households in 2001 and 20 percent lower than for Baby Boomers’ households at the end of the 1980s," notes Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic.

Between the lines: "The generation unlucky enough to enter the labor market in a recession suffers 'significant' earnings losses that take years and years to rebound," Lowrey reports.

  • "As of 2014, Millennial men were earning no more than Gen X men were when they were the same age, and 10 percent less than Baby Boomers."
  • "Millennial women were earning less than Gen X women."

Why it matters: The human costs are huge, leading to delayed family formation and more people living a paycheck away from disaster.

  • The parents of millennials — the boomers — are hurtling into retirement with children who may be less financially able to help.
  • The children of millennials — Generation Alpha — will almost certainly face the prospect of taking on even more student debt, with parents less able to help, absent a major public policy shift.
  • And millennials themselves are often stuck living in high-cost cities to get jobs that pay enough to tackle their loans.

The bottom line: All this is during a booming economy!

Go deeper: The global fear of too few young people

Go deeper