Whether it is walking through a foot of snow to the library, having to actually go meet a person to talk with them face to face, or needing to spin a hoop with a stick for fun, "back-in-my-day" stories never tend to be about how things were better or easier. Should they be?
According to Bloomberg View, 18 to 34 year olds, otherwise known as millennials, have not only suffered more due to the uneven economic gains that have occurred recently, but also there are more of them living in poverty. As compated to Babay Boomers in 1980, fewer are employed or own homes. Graduating in a recession, as many millennials did, doesn't just make it difficult to find work immediately after graduation. Research has shown it has lasting effects on a person’s career and lifetime incomes.
Student debt might seem like the most likely culprit for the majority of the hardships millennials are facing, as today’s average graduate has more student debt than ever before. But student debt, according to The Wall Street Journal, generally does not hinder people who earned degrees. Student debt is much more of an issue for people who failed to earn their degree but still have a considerable amount of debt.
The larger problems have been stagnant wages and sky-high rents. The lack of affordable housing in general is a major issue as seen by the number of 25 to 34-year-olds living at home, which was at a record high in 2015. With a proliferation of negative equity after the housing bust, those underwater couldn’t afford to move up to a new home, translating to fewer starter homes on the market for millennials.
In order for things to improve for millennials, the economy needs to continue to recover and wages need to begin rising more consistently. Additionally, homeownership rates need to continue on their upward trajectory (the second half of 2015 finally saw them begin to rise again). Without these improvements, millennials may be able to tell “Back in my day…” stories to their grandchildren without all the hyperbole and embellishment, but they’d probably prefer to continue the rich history of stories about trekking through knee-deep snow.