You would think that putting in forty hours of work a week for years on end would yield a pretty decent lifestyle. But for many millennials, that’s not the case. They put in the time, but ultimately, they don’t get the rewards. No matter how hard they work, achieving the lifestyle of the previous generation appears elusive. What’s going on?
Partly, it’s to do with the jobs themselves, and partly the nature of work in the modern economy. Some of it is under your control, and some to do with policy decisions at the top level.
Automation Destroyed Lots Of Middle Income Jobs
Robots were supposed to be the technology that saved the modern economy. But research by economists like David Autor has found that they’re actually gutting the middle class. All sorts of tasks that were once the province of highly technical professionals are now done by machines, leaving humans out of the loop. Interestingly, most people don’t see these changes because they’ve been occurring for decades. But make no mistake: they’ve been happening. Now the vast majority of new jobs are at either end of the skill ladder. You either flip burgers or you write scientific papers. The middle ground is disappearing.
For worried millennials, there isn’t much that can be done about this. It’s the nature of the modern economy. It will probably only change when entrepreneurs “catch up” and find new uses for labor.
Debt Has Grown Exponentially
Central banks, governments, and private corporations love debt. It allows them to raise their purchasing power in the present at the expense of the future. It is an immediate transfer of value to them in the here and now, allowing them to make vast amounts of money.
Millennials are saddled with debt from all kinds of sources. Student loans, credit card bills, and mortgages all eat into the average person’s wealth, consuming vast chunks of their salaries.
But even though debt grew exponentially over the last few years, there are ways out for the average person. Debt settlement is one option, but it usually means negotiating with creditors and agreeing to pay off a large portion of the loan. Debt discharge is a better option because it allows people to eliminate debts or pay a few pennies on the dollar.
Asset Prices Rose Faster Than Income
Asset prices rose faster than income over recent years. The average paycheck is pretty much the same as it was at the end of the 1990s, but house prices are double, and rents have gone up.
The fact that assets are so expensive now reflects a variety of factors, including general information in asset markets. So for millennials trying to get a foothold on the property ladder, it is a challenge.
It’s not all the nefarious actions of bankers and policymakers, though. The breakup of families is also driving demand for a higher number of units than in the past. Again, there’s not a lot you can do about this. Living with parents longer or moving in with groups of people are probably your best options.