America’s Youth Doesn’t Feel as Financially Sound as Their Parents

(Photo Credit: Devin Avery/Unsplash)
(Photo Credit: Devin Avery/Unsplash)

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Parents just don’t understand.

A new survey from the TIAA Institute and the AgingWell Hub at Georgetown University found that more than half of young workers in the US don’t think they’ll be as well off financially as their folks. And not just a matter of skinny personal savings, 401(k)s, and Roth IRAs.

You’re Not “With It”

Older generations may taunt them, saying, “Nobody wants to work these days,” but many young adults are dealing with high student debt that’s about to unfreeze, ever-present inflation, and a rapidly evolving job market where the skillsets they’ve spent years building could soon be obsolete courtesy of artificial intelligence.

With all that pressure, it’s easy to see why young adults might not have the most cheery outlook when it comes to the American dream:

  • Of the survey respondents who make less than $50,000, 60% said they’ll likely be worse off financially than their parents. Even when it comes to the young adults making more $100,000 a year — a salary twice the national median, by the way — roughly 35% said the same thing.
  • Buying a home is often one of the most surefire ways to create generational wealth, but that can be a pretty difficult task these days with rising home prices and unrelenting Fed rate hikes. In 2003, the average cost of a home in the US was roughly $230,000, according to Census data. Today, it’s about $520,000. Instead of saving for a down payment or emergency expenditures, the survey found that 42% of adults between the ages of 24 and 35 “generally agreed” they live paycheck-to-paycheck.

It’s Not About the Money (but it Kinda is): Despite those money woes, plenty of America’s working youth seem to be OK with it. Instead of investing in themselves, they’d prefer to contribute to solving large-scale problems like climate change, social injustice, and political division. But like those emergency pamphlets on airplanes say: Secure your own mask first before assisting others. “It is very energizing to know that the young adults do feel optimistic about taking on large global issues,” TIAA head Surya Kolluri told The Street. “Now, if we could help them also be certain and confident about their personal financial issues, I think the future is going to be in good hands.”