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Millennials are falling behind their boomer parents

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Andrea Ledesma, left, talked with her mother, Cheryl Romanowski, at Classic Slice pizza restaurant, where Ledesma works, in Milwaukee. Ledesma, 28, says her parents owned a house and were raising kids by her age.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Andrea Ledesma spread sauce on pizza dough, Jan. 9, at Classic Slice restaurant in Milwaukee. The 28-year-old has a four-year degree and quit a higher paying job because it made her miserable.

SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin >> Baby Boomers: your millennial children are worse off than you.

With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.

The analysis being released today gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.

The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who essentially pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

Andrea Ledesma, 28, says her parents owned a house and were raising kids by her age.

Not so for her. Ledesma graduated from college four years ago. After moving through a series of jobs, she now earns $18,000 making pizza at Classic Slice in Milwaukee, shares a two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and has $33,000 in student debt.

“That’s not at all how life is now, that’s not something that people strive for and it’s not something that is even attainable, and I thought it would be at this point,” Ledesma said.

Her mother Cheryl Romanowski, 55, was making about $10,000 a year at her age working at a bank without a college education. In today’s dollars, that income would be equal to roughly $19,500.

Romanowski said she envies the choices that her daughter has in life, but she acknowledged that her daughter has it harder than her.

“I think the opportunities have just been fading away,” she said.

The analysis of the Fed data shows the extent of the decline. It compared 25 to 34 year-olds in 2013, the most recent year available, to the same age group in 1989 after adjusting for inflation.

Education does help boost incomes. But the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989.

The home ownership rate for this age group dipped to 43 percent from 46 percent in 1989, although the rate has improved for millennials with a college degree relative to boomers.

The median net worth of millennials is $10,090, 56 percent less than it was for boomers.

Whites still earn dramatically more than Blacks and Latinos, reflecting the legacy of discrimination for jobs, education and housing.

Yet compared to white baby boomers, some white millennials appear stuck in a pattern of downward mobility. This group has seen their median income tumble more than 21 percent to $47,688.

Median income for black millennials has fallen just 1.4 percent to $27,892. Latino millennials earn nearly 29 percent more than their boomer predecessors to $30,436.

The analysis fits into a broader pattern of diminished opportunity. Research last year by economists led by Stanford University’s Raj Chetty found that people born in 1950 had a 79 percent chance of making more money than their parents. That figure steadily slipped over the past several decades, such that those born in 1980 had just a 50 percent chance of out-earning their parents.

This decline has occurred even though younger Americans are increasingly college-educated. The proportion of 25 to 29 year-olds with a college degree has risen to 35.6 percent in 2015 from 23.2 percent in 1990, a report this month by the Brookings Institution noted.

The declining fortunes of millennials could impact boomers who are retired or on the cusp of retirement. Payroll taxes from millennials helps to finance the Social Security and Medicare benefits that many boomers receive — programs that Trump has said won’t be subject to spending cuts. And those same boomers will need younger generations to buy their homes and invest in the financial markets to protect their own savings.

“The challenges that young adults face today could forecast the challenges that we see down the road,” said Tom Allison, deputy policy and research director at Young Invincibles.

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  • There is no great paying jobs in every category except the ones that you need over 4 years of college. Just about every product is outsourced. The everyday technology items everyone uses does not say made in usa. What is left? Fast food restaurants and retailers which are closing down slowly and other mediocre jobs. Sign of the times.

  • Being college educated does not guarantee you a good job, especially if you waste 4-5 years getting a worthless degree, a degree that sets you up for part time work at a pizza parlor or Starbucks. Even worse, if a kid dives head first into student debt to get such a degree they can expect to be on the losing end. Parents need to encourage thier kids to pursue a degree that will provide thier kids with post graduation employment. STEM is the way to go these days. Typical entry level salaries for engineers these days is $60-70k, a liberal arts student with a degree in 18th century French literature can expect to make about $19k/yr as an full entry level worker at McDonalds…big difference. You get out of life what you put into it. Decisions that kids make between the ages of 16 and 27 will determine the quality of the rest of their lives. Going into debt, getting married too early, having kids too early, not picking up a marketable skill etc will all lead to a life of struggling to make ends meet.

    As a 50+yr old retiree, Ive spent the last year and a half on campus taking classes. It has been a positive experience, but I am unimpressed with millennials. Many tend to be narcissistic, lack people skills, and cant put down thier cell phones to contact with others and the real world. I get the feeling that they have a elevated sense of entitlement and feel like everything should be handed to them vice earning it. Big generational differences between them an I……of course that is probably the same thing my seniors said about my generation so may years ago.

      • Not probably, but did vote for the assisted “right to die” suicide queen. They all cried the day she lost, all their dreams of student load forgiveness went out the windows after they experienced a moment of lucidity that Libtard Kumbaya Politics has no future and now they’ll be competing for jobs along with millions of illegals, whom they embraced with open arms, in the fast food industry! LOL

    • STEM is critical and that is why early education before kindergarten in literacy and math is so important. Please look at what we are doing at KS and other great places. And by the way. Obama is in no way guilty of the huge technological and globalization changes that have roiled employment. These trends developed 30 plus years ago.

      • Math in kindergarten or before kindergarten is not math! LOL

        If you take “D”ummy #1 and start teaching “D”ummy math at an early age, “D”ummy #1 will be a “D”ummy no matter how many books you throw at “D”ummy. Looks at the rail, it took millions of dollars and many accountants and not a single one can tell you the final or estimated cost of the rail. Only trying to prove my point that not everyone is a math genius and some people grow up to become “D”ummies no matter how many PhDs they acquire in their lifetime.

        • Overpopulation ruined everything,from oversupply of uneducated worker thru immigrants to un-affordable real estate.

      • Allie, you do not need pre-K education. The difference between now and 20-30 years ago is the family involvement in the development of kids. Nowadays, the development of kids is funneled through the smart phone or the tablets. Kids do not utilize their brains to formulate problems/answers in math.
        As for the literacy, again, we rely so much on our technology that it has handicapped our abilities to reason and come up with solutions without asking Google.
        The short: involve the kids in the family
        immerse kids in social events and athletics
        read to your kids
        get rid of the tech stuff
        bring out the flash cards for addition/subtraction/multiplication/division
        bring back text-books and rid the computers unless it is for a computer
        classes.
        Our technology WILL be the demise of the human race.

        • You said, “Our technology WILL be the demise of the human race.”

          Meaning you are the first example of our downfall. Sad.

        • Not true. Preschool today is far more based on child develop models. It is sophisticated stuff based on contemporary brain research. Your points are grossly out of date. Why not support parents and the keiki who want a chance at the American dream. Trying to keep them back on the plantation are ya?

  • These “millennials” in this article must not be too smart. Sure they go to college (after borrowing money to do it) but they end up working making pizzas? The smart ones get a marketable education and then work in a field where there is money, challenges, and chance for advancement and financial security.

    • What got me ahead without a college education? Doing more than what was required. NOT racing for the timeclock at quitting time. LEARNING skills/software on my own and NOT taking the attitude of “not getting paid to do it so I won’t do it” when I was the beneficiary of doing so.

    • Yeah they go to college and major in liberal arts and social sciences and that is why they ended up with dead-end jobs after getting their liberal arts degree. I work with some of these millenials and they don’t have good work ethics, they call in sick a lot and request off a lot. They supported Bernie the socialist because of the “freebies” he was promising if chosen as the Demoncrat nominee; what they don’t realize is that this country is in deep do-do with debt that they can’t put two and two that the debt will be on their shoulder once they are out in the real world.

  • Few people in life start out with a “great job”, you take what work you can get, pay your dues and move on to better positions in life when you are qualified and the opportunity presents itself. The parents of these millennials need to make this clear to them, and should teach them about prioritizing their lives economically, not everyone will have the capacity or opportunity to “make a lot of money” on a annual basis, but with discipline, we all have the ability to accumulate some wealth over the length of our lives. It’s called deferred gratification.

    • Yup, seen too many millenials driving luxury cars, carrying designer purses, having latest smartphones, some even have a few kids in their 20’s. That’s not helping with wealth accumulation.

  • Average locals of the millenial generation will not be able to stay here unless they eventually get the parents’ home. Rich outsiders and investors are buying up real estate here and driving home prices out of reach and squeezing locals out of a legacy of living in Hawaii, especially Oahu.

    • Uhhh by my count this is the 7th time you have done a “Copy and Paste” of the exact same post. Not applicable to the article. Same as you do on rail articles.

      Mark of a rookie poster. Boring.

    • Yes, ukuleleblue, 100% spot on! In order to fix the problem you should push Caldwell and Ige to grant every illegal immigrant in this country the legal right to join the union with a minimum starting wage of $55/hr and be entitled to Hawaii’s ERS pension system. Not granting 40+ million illegals the chance to move into Oahu at taxpayer expense is an injustice! Look at California, they have so many illegals that every illegal in CA has a state ID/DL, a house and free welfare benefits but not the citizens. Forget the millennials, they don’t need homes or a job, they took Libtard Kumbayaa Politics which are useless and they refuse to do the jobs illegals will do. We need to feed and house illegals FIRST, just like in California! It’s the “D” Aloha spirit to pander to illegals instead!

  • ” . . . graduated from college four years ago. After moving through a series of jobs, . . . ”

    what degree did ledesma pay for with her student loan. seems to be a waste of an education to earn degree that fails to prepare millennials for even minimum wage jobs that employers are switching out to automated service to avoid overpaying millennials with no skills.

    recently before a senate hearing committee, department of agriculture chair scott enright tried to explain that a large part of the problem with finding and hiring qualified millennials is that they tend to leave the job sooner rather than considering it for a career.

  • No surprise here. It used to be expected that when one was 18 they were to be prepared to be on their own. Now, thanks to a number of government movements, they are still considered “children” under their parents responsibility on health care until they are 26. Making significant changes like that has results that are unintended but remind us that government has been overreaching too far these past 8 years. Hopefully, the hope and change ahead are more helpful than harmful for our children’s development.

    • They’re busy working and progressing further up. But the rail might hurt them as the old crows are out to steal everything they can before they croak.

  • Want to be in the Top 90% of the work force? Show Up For Work. Want to be in the top 95% of the work Force? Show Up For Work ON TIME. Want to be in the Top 98% of the work force? Show up for work on time and ready to go to work… not standing around visiting, not in the bathroom, not at the coffee machine. READY TO START WORKING. As for getting out of debt… cut up the credit cards… do not go out to eat or the movies… stop buying that $5 cup of coffee… get a 2nd or even a 3rd job after your regular job and on weekends. In a year or two you will have paid off your debts and have money in the bank.

    • EXCELLENT POST,!!! Concur 200%…….only thing I would add is when you get to work turn off your cell phone and stay off social media while at work….that is not what you are getting paid for…….maybe an additional comment might be is don’t pick up the nasty habit of smoking!…….beside screwing up your health, it takes away from your job performance when you have to step outside for a smoke break every hour. ….Have a great weekend!

    • Awesome! You and NSG absolutely understand. But I will say this. Part of the problem might be our fault. Not saying YOU or me personally, but our generation (millennial’s parents) in general. As with all generations, I think that we would want our children to do better than we did. So our parents worked hard to get us where we are, and WE worked hard to try to get our kids to do better. Unfortunately, for some, getting our kids to do better meant giving them everything they want without earning it, and praising them for every little thing they did (giving a participation trophy). I’m not saying it’s all of our generation, but as a former high school teacher, I’ve seen it happening. It’s all about self-esteem and making sure your kid has better stuff than the other kids. And, as the old saying goes, we got what we paid for!

  • Did you catch the caption that she had a higher paying job using her degree but quit because it made her miserable? Sometimes you have to suck it up until you find something better and weigh your options. Something tells me she is not typical, but made some dicey choices. The value of hard work can’t be understated.

    • I grew up in the days when we still had pineapple fields and canneries. I worked three summers in the cannery as a seamer, the guy who takes heavy trays of canned pineapples without lids and feeds them into the lid machine. Sounds simple until you know that each tray was about 25 pounds, and you lifted literally hundreds of trays in a 8-12 hour shift in a room that was at least 10 degrees hotter than outside. Did I mention it was summer? I was temporary, but I saw a lot of old(er) men doing the same thing as their permanent job. I had to wake up at 5:00 every morning and come home at 6:00 every day and made $1.35/hour. I told myself I was DEFINITELY going to college.

  • Give a listen to Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs fame. He’s actively encouraging today’s youth to look towards the trades. We have a growing need for technically skilled people able to step into skilled positions around the nation. Trade schools can prepare millennials to step into solid, well paying careers that offer a far better ROI than a liberal arts degree resulting in hawking cheeseburgers.
    A solid piece of advice for anyone in any job is to learn it well, do it well, and become an asset rather than simply an employee. And, if you find yourself pushing cheeseburgers, figure out how to own the profits.

    • Most millennials don’t have cable, they cut the cord long ago. They’ll never see Dirty Jobs. Instead they’re watching and playing Pokemon on their cell phones. Their idea of work is to get a “D” government union job and free money will flow from the sky.

    • Yes, and I particularly like your last sentence. My classmate started working part time at McDonalds while still in school. She worked hard and slowly climbed the ladder. Today, she is the TOP executive at McDonalds of Hawaii.

  • “Whites still earn dramatically more than Blacks and Latinos, reflecting the legacy of discrimination for jobs, education and housing.” What a loaded, unsubstantiated, ultimately lolo statement to make. This is a generalization with no source to back it up.

    Separately, although I agree that many (perhaps most) Millenials lack a strong work ethic and could do things to improve their lot, one glaring problem with this entire assessment is that it compares this generation to a time that was post-WWII. This period, post-WWII, was unprecedented, almost nowhere else in time was there such a prosperous time for our country or world. The entire world, incl our country, was beaten down from the war, and as a result there was nowhere else but up. Hence progress looks good from such a low point. Now, we are comparing incremental gains over recent years compared to those boom years, that’s why it looks like people today are worse off than generations ago. Again, this doesn’t mean Millenials face issues in improving their lot, but more perspective needs to be brought to the broader picture.

  • Maybe those better paying jobs don’t fit the millenials’ “life style.” Maybe this girl wanted flexible hours so she can surf when the waves are up. Or a boss that makes her feel “valued” and special. Or maybe she wasn’t promoted to CEO after 6 months. Who knows? I do know that I read a survey that said about 1/2 of all millenials would be willing to take a cut in pay for more “flexible” work, and 2/3 of them don’t want to work for anyone else but want to be their own boss. With those kinds of numbers, is it any wonder their salaries are lower than their parents? An employer might look at those surveys and go, “ok, I get to pay you less in exchange for flexibility” or, “quit and start your own business.”

    • That’s not much for a USC grad! Illegals make more than your son and they don’t even have a H.S. diploma! LOL

      Let me show you the numbers in California…
      Your Son: $80k (Gross salary) – $20k (~15% IRS & ~10% CA state income taxes) = $60k take home NET.
      Illegal immigrant/criminal: $52k (cash – under the table income, average illegal domestic worker annual pay) + $14k (FREE Section 8 housing, annually) + $6k (FREE welfare, food stamps, healthcare) = $72k take home pay.

      Don’t believe my numbers, feel free to Google all FACTS I post! It’s really sad how Americans are being gamed by the unfortunate system the “D” devout states have created.

      • He’s doing a lot better than the person in this article. My son is just getting entry level pay. How bout you? You making 6 figures? How much did you earn for your first job out out collage? or you didn’t go to collage?

        • This isn’t about me so don’t attack me. I’m just sayin his income sucks for a USC graduate as I don’t know of any USC grads earning under 6 figures. USC is a good school so unless he’s doing social work he should be demanding a lot more as most employers just offer petty 5% annual raises from the initial salary. I can’t imagine how one can even survive on $80k in those regions unless you have 4 roommates. Heck even entry level police officers all earn around $160k in San Diego area when you factor in their OT pay which they all get on top of their base salary.

      • dragon, I SERIOUSLY doubt average illegal immigrants make $1,000 weekly “under the table”. Yeah, right, cooks, janitors, waitresses, gardeners. And sure, they flaunt their illegal status by applying for as many government benefits as possible. I would imagine millions of underpaid illegals are working three part-time jobs for cash. They’re also “under the radar”. Nice con, dragon, just like your $1 Detroit homes for Hawaii’s homeless people. But on a positive note, congratulations to Damia and her son’s $80,000 REAL job. He’ll be able to BUILD HIS FUTURE! His entire productive life and career lies ahead. That’s no comparison to shibai illegals SUPPOSEDLY living high on the dole.

      • dragon, “that’s not much for a USC grad.”. LOL, are the majority of USC grads make more than $80K fresh out of school graduation? LOL, that’s what I like about the dragon. Some of his comments are so preposterous, it’s easy to shoot him down. His mind is hell bent on denigrating you, he’ll say anything, especially anti_Democratic dribble. Contrary to Damia’s son, illegals HAVE…..NO…..FUTURE! Over 25% of Mexican immigrants in California LIVE…..IN…..POVERTY!

        • Little do you know you old fool! Many illegals own million dollar homes in California with the whole family working. Little do you know many own their own construction, plumbing and other trades earn $100k+ a year but I gave out small numbers what a nanny makes in California. Most are self employed as they have to stay under the radar. Grow up and educate yourself you old fart!

        • dragon, many more illegals own nothing and work menial jobs, especially farm workers. LOL, what does growing up have anything to do with my retort? Nothing, but to denigrate me, as you do others who call you on your negativity and misinformation. Buying a $1 Detroit home lately, fool?

        • Damia, I don’t know what she makes and could care less since she’s in Hawaii and a news anchor. That profession barely pays 6 figures anywhere in the US and you don’t even need a H.S. diploma to be a news anchor so her parents wasted money on her schooling to send her to USC for a career a HS kid can do. I was specifically referring to California. Then again, if your kid took Libtard Politics as a major he’s lucky to make a dime. Just sayin…

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