New York City-based millennials have weathered the most inclement economic environment since the Great Depression, and are poised to earn roughly 20 percent less than their Gen X predecessors, according to a report from the New York City Comptroller’s office.
When analyzing the economic and professional well-being of New York City millennials aged 19-to-29, the report unearthed a depressingly large cohort of young professionals earning an average of just $23,500 a year in 2014 – down from $27,500 in 2000.
This is all despite the fact that more and more millennials are attending college, with 72 percent of those surveyed earning some form of college credit.
Still, the share of young people working in mid- and high-wage industries fell by three percentage points between 2000 and 2014, while low-wage industries saw a four percent increase in millennial-aged employees.
“Millennials were applying for jobs in the most difficult economic climate since the Great Depression and as a result, a growing number are now working in low-wage industries and earning less than their predecessors,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer in a statement accompanying the report.
“This group of young people is confronting unique economic challenges that their parents did not have to face. Every generation is expected to do better than the last, but too many Millennials are not getting a fair chance to make it in New York City.”
A higher education trap
The findings factually confirm the growing fear that millennials are the first generation to be worse off than their parents, even after adjusting for inflation and shifts in the cost of living. This revelation goes against the tradition of American culture, which broadly assumes that financial and economic prosperity will naturally grow with each passing year.
As we’ve mentioned before, our outdated higher education system is partly to blame. Aside from being a gold mine for student loan debt and financial ruin, American universities fail to provide students with the skills-based training necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.
“This is a generation that has been ‘syllabused’ through their lives,” said Marie Atrim in an interview with the Washington Post. Atrim is the vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise.
“Decisions were made for them, so we’re less likely to find someone who can pull the trigger and make a decision.”
There’s an increasingly clear disconnect between what employers are looking for and what college graduates are able to offer.
According to a survey on college learning and career success from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, most college students felt they possessed the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace, while employers disagreed.
When asked about college graduates’ ability to work with numbers and/or statistics, for example, just 28 percent of employers felt that the students were prepared, as compared to 55 percent of the students.
The students’ tendency to overrate themselves as compared to the employers continued across various skill sets, with the largest gaps in sentiment occurring in “critical/analytical thinking” and “written communication.”
Until our expensive higher education system decides to measure success by students’ preparedness as opposed to test scores, this failed game of matchmaker between college grads and employers will most likely continue.
Fortunately, the rise of skills-based training courses and computer science programs that have sprung up in the wake of higher ed’s tailspin provide students with other options. Because an $80,000 college degree obviously isn’t enough.
Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.