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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

The separate and unequal paths in business

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.

GOP state legislatures move to assert control over election systems

Contractors in Phoenix in May 2021 recounting ballots as part of a 2020 general election audit requested by the Arizona State Senate. Photo: Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post

Republican-held state legislatures have passed bills that give lawmakers more power over the vote by stripping secretaries of state of their power, asserting control over election boards and creating easier methods to overturn election results, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The bills, triggered by baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, threaten to politicize traditionally non-partisan election functions by giving Republicans more control over election systems.

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