It’s rare to talk with a fellow student and not get into a discussion about employment. Most young adults these days have at least a summer job, while some may have a part-time job year-round. This is likely in response to the deep-seeded anxiety of what one will do when they graduate college.
It is incredibly difficult to find a job that will pay well without a college education. Getting a college degree, however, usually comes with substantial college debt.
This anxiety is based on our generational predecessors, whose finances were not nearly as burdensome. Whether or not a Gen Z individual attends college, they must still work a substantial amount of hours in order to be financially comfortable.
Compared to 15% of the Silent Generation, 25% of the Baby Boomers and 29% of Gen X, 39% of millennials have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to The Pew Research Center.
There is a large gap in earnings between those with a college education and those without, among millennials. Millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher had median annual earnings of $56,000, but those with some college or less reported only $36,000 annually, down from $38,900 among Baby Boomers at the same age in 1982.
Generation X young adults had a median income of $70,700 in 2001, but millennial households with multiple incomes, had a median income of $71,400. These numbers do not address the cost of paying back college loans.
Student loans are crushing millennials. A Forbes report on student debt found that 16.8 million people ages 29 and younger are student-loan borrowers. With college tuition prices going up, it is only going to get worse. The College Board projected that, on average, public universities’ tuition will cost an average of $94,800 for four years in 2033.
Millennials need to be well-educated, otherwise they won’t be able to afford the cost of living, projected to be the highest ever since 2012. If millennials are educated at a college level or higher, however, they will endure student debt. This is why a massive amount of the generation continues to live with their parents after college.
In 2018, 15% of millennials were living in their childhood homes, nearly double that of Boomers with 8% at the same age.
There is also a larger gap between education and the likelihood of living at home. A millennial with only a high school education is two times more likely to still be living with their parents. Prior generations had little to no gap.
It’s a stigma in our society that any person still living at home is unsuccessful and lazy, but many millennials are hard-working and dedicated. Some decide they would rather sacrifice the dream of leaving home for some financial stability. Others feel pressured by the glorified idea of independence, and therefore subject themselves to crazy hours just to make ends meet.
Gen Z is projected to be the best educated generation, but based on college tuition inflation, they will likely share a similar fate to millennials. Fortunately, many have foreseen this issue and began working to pay for college.
If Gen Z individuals keep up their strong work ethics, hopefully they will be able to combat the harsh financial burdens they will inevitably be faced with.