On Thursday, Young Invincibles released a troubling update to their report, “The Financial Health of Young America: Measuring Generational Declines Between Baby Boomers & Millennials.” This report includes a cross-generational study of the financial well-being of Millennials today versus Baby Boomers when they were in their adolescence. The update covers the economic challenges facing millennials age 25 to 34 between 2013 and 2016.
Despite the fact that this is the second most extended economic expansion/central bank induced channel of financial capital into speculation and financialization, the update reveals how the millennial generation has transformed into the lost generation, as their financial security has eroded late in the business cycle. For the first time, young adults age 25 to 34 with college degrees and student loans have a median net wealth of negative $1,900, said the advocacy group. The report states that this lost generation had a positive net wealth of $9,000 in 2013, but since, the accumulation of debt has turned America’s future leaders into the walking dead.
The report update shows new, disturbing trends for Millennials, including:
“For the first time, young adults who graduated college with student debt have negative net wealth. Today’s young adults with student debt have a median net wealth of -$1,900. That’s down from a median net wealth of $9,000 in 2013.”
“Homeownership among young people continues to trend downward. A primary means for families to build and transfer wealth, homeownership among young people dipped by 3 percent. This trend is entirely driven by college graduates with student debt, as the rate of homeownership for young people with degrees but no debt, as well as those with no degree, remained stable.”
“This financial decline has been especially devastating for young African Americans, regardless of student debt. Between 2013 and 2016, homeownership among all young African Americans declined 6 percent, median net wealth has dropped nearly 19 percent, and the retirement saving rate also declined.”
Chart 1 – Median Net Wealth of 25-34 Year-Olds by Degree Status
” When subtracting all of their debts from all of their assets, today’s young adults with college degrees and student debt are left with a median net wealth of -$1,900. This is a decline of approximately $9,000 from 2013, a continuation of the trends revealed in the original report, though even more disturbing given the recent economic recovery. Moreover, negative net wealth serves as a powerful symbol of student debt weighing down on young adults’ ability to achieve financial stability. After investing tens of thousands of dollars and years into their education, these young people have not yet broken even. While we know that on the whole a college education is still the best pathway to long term financial security, student debt is blunting some of the benefit that a college degree should have on wealth accumulation.”
Chart 2 – Percent of 25-34 Year-Olds who are Homeowners by Year
“Research shows that home ownership continues to be the primary means for families to build and transfer wealth. Home ownership declined for young adults from 43 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2016. This trend is entirely driven by college graduates with student debt, as the rate of homeownership for the those with degrees but no debt, as well as those with no degree, remained stable. This does not mean the debt is causing the decline in homeownership, but the correlation is persuasive.”
Chart 3 – Percent of 25-34 Year-Olds who are Homeowners by Degree Status
“This latest update adds an important layer to our existing analysis on the financial decline of young people compared to their parents’ generation,” said Tom Allison, author of the report update and Deputy Policy & Research Director for Young Invincibles.
“This newly-available data shows that despite overall economic growth between 2013 and 2016, which brought lower unemployment and growing GDP, this generation of young people is still being left behind. Student debt is a unique and growing burden on young people’s ability to achieve long-term financial stability. As the most diverse generation in our nation’s history, today’s young people need policies that also address the widening wealth gap and advance equity and mobility.”
The cross-generation understanding will be important as millennials takeover over a substantial percentage of the workforce in the next 8 to 10 years. With the knowledge presented above from Young Invincibles, America’s future leaders have insurmountable debt that honestly reflects the current financial status of this country: bankrupt. Trump wants to “make America great again,” but we should accept the fact that the empire is in decline…