According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF), they earn $2,000 less than their parents did at a comparable age, they are more likely to live in poverty, and they are more likely to live at home. …
The truth is that lower wages and poverty can account for so many of the things that older generations find so mystifying about millennials.
For example, millennials drive less than their parent’s generation—and until recently, at least—were relatively uninterested in buying cars. But trying to make cars cooler doesn’t change the fact that, as CityLab found, there’s a significant gap in vehicle miles traveled between millenials who make over $30,000 a year and those who make less. Simply put: Cars cost money and millennials have less of it.
Millennials have also been shamed for how much they spend eating out instead of say, saving for retirement. “Millennials Are Spending an Embarrassing Amount on Brunch and Takeaway Pizza,” Vice recently declared. It’s easy to chalk that generational difference up to some sort of narcissistic short-sightedness but the truth is probably a lot closer to fatalism: When millennials can’t save for retirement anyway, why not spring for some bottomless mimosas instead of enrolling in a 401(k)?
Banking policy in the last three decades greatly increased the return from asset speculation, meaning those with money got more. But the resulting debt overhang and sclerotic economy, changes in trade and immigration policies, increased government regulation, and increased taxation to pay for the extra bureaucracy and welfare, is killing the prospects for workers.