Millennials are deeper in debt than past two generations: study

Woe is millennials.

New numbers have been crunched into “visualizations” illustrating just how broke the much derided generation born between 1981 and 1996 is compared to baby boomers and Generation X.

Using Federal Reserve data, “cost information” website How Much found that adults ages 22 to 37 had a crushing average total debt of $84,600.

This number was far higher than the average debt Gen Xers and boomers had when they were 22 to 37 in 2001 and 1989, respectively. After adjusting for inflation, Gen X had a comparative $79,400 in average debt while boomers had just $59,300 — not shocking considering the higher cost of cars and education many young people have to contend with today.

“We have far less saved, far less equity, far less stability, and far, far more student debt,” moans Anne Helen Petersen in BuzzFeed’s new viral manifesto about how millennials became “the Burnout Generation.”

The How Much data also compares the generations’ business assets, home and vehicle equity, and stocks.

Considering many millennials entered the job market directly after the housing crash and are notorious for not buying homes, these numbers show that, actually, the Me generation is not doing too bad when it comes to owning property, with $84,100 on average in housing assets.

In total, millennials average a net worth of $179,300 — higher than 1989 boomers’ $173,200 by a slim margin, and significantly lower than 2001 Gen Xers’ $227,400.

When it comes to retirement savings, millennials are actually doing better than the previous generations did at their age, with an average of $18,800 saved up compared to Gen Xers’ $16,800 and boomers’ $6,600. Other studies say the young generation is resolving to save even more, and not just for retirement, in 2019.

How Much notes that the Great Recession is likely to credit for millennials being so much more conservative with their money. (Well, not all of them.)

Another aspect to keep in mind when looking at the data is how many factors are stacked up against young people today, causing chronic burnout, which other generations didn’t have to reckon with.

As Petersen writes for BuzzFeed: “We’re deeply in debt, working more hours and more jobs for less pay and less security, struggling to achieve the same standards of living as our parents, operating in psychological and physical precariousness, all while being told that if we just work harder, meritocracy will prevail, and we’ll begin thriving.”

Let’s see if Gen Z can manage better.

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