Does every generation think that it has a harder time of it than the generations that came before them? Probably, but is that premise accurate?
The Resolution Foundation and the banking outfit Freedom Finance teamed up to determine whether or not the Millennial generation has a tougher road than the Boomer generation had. They looked at issues such house buying, earnings, work, savings and retirement. Here is what they found.
After six decades of rising property prices, the average home now costs 7.6 times than the average salary. The median price paid for a house increased by 259% between 1997 – 2016 while median earnings increased by 68% during this same time period.
The Resolution Foundation found that Millennials spend 3X more on their housing costs than the amount Boomers spent on their housing costs when they were the same age. Twice as many Boomers owned their own homes when they were 30-years-old than today’s 30-year-olds. Freedom Finance found that the average age of a Millennial homeowner is 31 whereas the average age of a Boomer homeowner was 27.
Today’s Millennials in their early 30’s, according to the Resolution Foundation, earn 6% more than what Gen Xers earned at the same age. However, Boomers who are in their late 60’s are 29% better off than their Silent Generation counterparts.
The problem is that the rise in income goes nowhere in terms of compensating for rising living costs. Millennials have seen a real deterioration in most levels of living standards. Retirees, over the last 40 years, have seen their real disposable incomes rise +2.8% while non-retirees gave seen their real disposable incomes rise only +2.1%.
There are huge changes within this category. Boomers got and had jobs for life. Boomers had defined benefit pension schemes. 91% of Boomers started working full time between the ages of 18-24 compared to only 59% of Millennials working full time. The Millennial generation is and has experienced a work environment in which jobs are harder to get, working hours are longer and there are no benefits.
Here’s a startling fact. One third of Millennials have less than $1,000 in savings. $1,000 is less than one month’s rent. Millennials also have more debt than any generation has had previously due to student debt rates.
Despite the fact that Millennials are likely to begin saving at younger ages (27 years old) than Boomers began saving (31 years old), Millennials simply have less money to save.
Again, Boomers have a better time of it in terms of retirement. Boomers have and are retiring on their final salary pension schemes. Those schemes no longer exist for future generations. And, even though many Boomers believe they’ll still be working at 70, Millennials think they will never be able to retire…ever. Any sort of pension today clocks in at 40% of the overall welfare budget and 40% looks to be unsustainable. Even if those pensions were sustainable, pension ages continue to rise.
Bottom line, Millennials have it much harder than Boomers at every corner. Likely, this is the first generation of people who may not be able to execute one of the tenets of the American dream…”doing better” and “having a better life” than their parents.