Millennials are doing far worse financially than generations before them, with student loans, rising rents and higher health care costs pushing the average net worth below $8,000, a new study shows.
The net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996, according to research released Thursday by Deloitte, the accounting and professional services giant. This demographic is paying more for education and such basics as food and transportation while incomes have largely flatlined.
“The vast majority of consumers are under tremendous financial pressure,” said Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte’s chief retail innovation officer and lead author of the study. “That is particularly true for low-income Americans and millennials.”
The growing gap between the nation’s wealthiest residents and everybody else, he said, is affecting the way consumers spend.
Education expenses have climbed 65 percent in the past decade. Food costs have jumped 26 percent, health care is up 21 percent, housing jumped 16 percent and transportation rose 11 percent. And there are now expenses that most consumers didn’t have to account for 20 years ago, including smartphones and data plans.
Today’s 20- and 30-somethings spend about 17 percent of their incomes on education, health care and rent, compared with 12 percent a decade ago, the study found. Discretionary spending, which includes dining out, alcohol and furniture, has remained largely flat, at about 11 percent of total income.
“Only 20 percent of consumers were meaningfully better off in 2017 than they were in 2007, with precious little income left to spend on discretionary retail,” the study found.