Photo: Doug Kerr/Flickr
Millennials are perhaps the most maligned generation of all, often accused of living at home longer than previous generations while simultaneously being a combination of lazy, unemployed and selfish. But the results of new study by the listing site Trulia suggests that Millennials have more in common with previous generations than differences.
For the study, Trulia used the Census’ Current Population Survey (CPS) to look at Millennials aged 28 through 32 years old, or “those old enough to be out of school but still fairly fresh in the labor market,” with regards to homeownership, employment status and income.
It then compared the CPS data for Millennials to older adults in their “prime working years” (aged 33 to 55 years) at various points in history over the last 55 years.
Trulia discovered that the “gap in success” remained constant through the years, indicating that many of our beliefs about Millennials being “the worst generation” are unfounded. Young adults of all generations have struggled in the same way, says Trulia.
One of the biggest myths about Millennials is that they tend to live at home longer. In 2016, nearly 15 percent of Millennials between 28 and 32 years old lived at home, while 5.5 percent of adults 33 to 55 lived at home with parents or grandparents — indicating that older Millennials were 2.7 times more likely to live at home than adults 33 through 55.
Comparatively, in 1999, young Generation Xers were 2.2 times as likely to still be living at home compared to their older peers. And 2.8 percent of young Baby Boomers in 1982 hadn’t left the nest.
The likelihood that young adults would still be living at home during the timeframe of the study hit a low in 1964, when young adults of “the Silent Generation” were only 1.8 times more likely to live at home when compared to their older peers, according to Trulia. The Silent Generation also had a high rate of home ownership.
And while Millennials are often categorized as being unemployed, Trulia found that recessions tend to affect younger generations the most. They tend to lose jobs more quickly than their older co-workers, and are often forced to move back home while they look for work.
“Since 1962, the 28-32 cohort who are unemployed but looking for work has oscillated at a level 30 percent higher than that of their older peers,” says Trulia. Young Millennials today are about 30 percent more likely to be unemployed compared to their older peers, compared to rates between 41 percent and nearly 52 percent of young adults during the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. So young Millennials are in fact more employed compared to their older peers than previous generations, according to Trulia’s data.
A major area where the generations diverge is home ownership. Millennials have the lowest rate of home ownership since 1975. In 2016, about 39 percent of young Millennials owned their own home, compared to just over 63 percent of their older peers.
Young adults have been putting off “big life moments” like marriage, having kids, and buying a home in recent years in many cases due to financial stress. Student loan debt and slow wage growth are often cited as the principal causes of the financial stress facing Millennials.
“The big takeaway from all this study is that it is important to distinguish between what young people typically do and what older or younger adults seem to be doing at unusual rates,” Trulia concludes.
Young adults today aren’t necessarily any better or worse off than previous generations. Many of the inferences being made about Millennials are “being made outside the context of what every young adult does at unusually high or low rates and regardless of where the long-term trends have been pointing for decades.”
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