Depending on who you ask, Millennials are the unluckiest generation. Many of us graduated into a tight labor market thanks to the Great Recession with mountains of student loan debt, only to face more financial struggles in the post-pandemic world. Money has been a defining concern for this group of people, making the dream of owning a home seem unobtainable, and it’s left us with a future that’s anything but certain.
But are Millennials really that unique? Every generation has its struggles, and Gen Z could argue that they’ve got things worse. They’re also graduating into an unstable job market with larger mountains of student loan debt and a more challenging housing market. So, the next generation is likely to continue to watch the middle-class shrink, resulting in many people earning less than expected.
This means there’s a new generation of poor people coming; a group that has traits of its own. While it doesn’t necessarily mean these people will be in poverty, they’ll pick up habits that force them to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Traits that have typically defined the middle class — things like career objectives, home ownership, and savings — will start to feel like an American dream that never turns into a reality.
I write this from the perspective of a Millennial who dealt with my own generation’s struggles. I‘m in a decent place, but only because I’ve addressed habits that limited my financial strength. These are things older generations couldn’t prepare me for, and I’ve seen other people get caught in a cycle that keeps them poor. Their instability can easily be replicated by Gen Z if they absorb the traits that cause financial strain.
Student Loan Debt Is a Given
With each passing year, the percentage of young adults who have a college degree grows. Simultaneously, they’re graduating with an increasing amount of student loan debt. So, when young Americans enroll in school, they’re also resigning to a fate that includes loan repayments ($31,100 per Bachelor’s degree, on average).
While this number continues to grow, people born in the late 90s and early 00s have never known a world where people weren’t repaying mountains of debt. So, they likely go to school and take out huge loans because that’s just what you do…