How Millennials Compare with Prior Generations
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Based on your best understanding of the following two texts, explain at least three differences between the two texts and why each difference might be important for readers. Respond to the prompt in a multi-paragraph essay.
A good response will demonstrate an ability to articulate clear reasoning, organize information, sustain a discussion for several paragraphs, support claims with evidence, and express ideas clearly.
Passage 1: “How Millennials Compare with Prior Generations”
Income and wealth
The financial well-being of Millennials is complicated. The individual earnings for young workers have remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. But this belies a notably large gap in earnings between Millennials who have a college education and those who don’t. Similarly, the household income trends for young adults markedly diverge by education. As far as household wealth, Millennials appear to have accumulated slightly less than older generations had at the same age.
Millennials with a bachelor’s degree or more and a full-time job had median annual earnings valued at $56,000 in 2018, roughly equal to those of college-educated Generation X workers in 2001. But for Millennials with some college or less, annual earnings were lower than their counterparts in prior generations. For example, Millennial workers with some college education reported making $36,000, lower than the $38,900 early Baby Boomer workers made at the same age in 1982. The pattern is similar for those young adults who never attended college.
Millennials in 2018 had a median household income of roughly $71,400, similar to that of Gen X young adults ($70,700) in 2001. (This analysis is in 2017 dollars and is adjusted for household size. Additionally, household income includes the earnings of the young adult, as well as the income of anyone else living in the household.)
The growing gap by education is even more apparent when looking at annual household income. For households headed by Millennials ages 25 to 37 in 2018, the median adjusted household income was about $105,300 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, roughly $56,000 greater than that of households headed by high school graduates. The median household income difference by education for prior generations ranged from $41,200 for late Boomers to $19,700 for the Silent Generation when they were young.
Bialik, Kristen, and Richard Fry. “How Millennials Compare with Prior Generations.” Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends Project, 14 February 2019, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/essay/millennial-life-how-young-adulthood-today-compares-with-prior-generations/
(Links to an external site.)
. Accessed 20 May 2020.
Passage 2: “Millennials are the new Lost Generation”
During the recession, half of recent graduates were unable to find work; the Millennials’ formal unemployment rate ranged as high as 20 or 30 percent. High rates of joblessness, low wages, and stagnant earnings trajectories dogged them for the following decade. A major Pew study found that Millennials with a college degree and a full-time job were earning by 2018 roughly what Gen Xers were earning in 2001. But Millennials who did not finish their post-secondary education or never went to college were poorer than their counterparts in Generation X or the Baby Boom generation. Economic growth, in other words, left the best-off Millennials treading water and the worst-off drowning.
Crummy wages collided with a cost-of-living crisis and heavy debt loads.
The cost of higher education grew by 7 percent per year through the 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s, far faster than the overall rate of inflation, leaving Millennial borrowers with an average of $33,000 in debt. Worse: The return on that investment has proved dubious, particularly for black Millennials. The college wage premium has eroded, and for black students the college wealth premium has disappeared entirely. While struggling to pay down their student loans, millions of younger Americans have also found themselves shut out of the real-estate market by housing shortages and attending sky-high prices. Rich Boomers bought the houses and made building new ones impossible. Millennials were forced to keep on renting, transferring wealth from the young to the old.
Put it all together, and the Millennials had no chance to build the kind of nest eggs that older generations did—the financial cushions that help people weather catastrophes, provide support to sick or down-on-their luck relatives, start businesses, invest in real estate, or go back to school. Going into the 2008 financial crisis, Gen Xers had twice the assets that Millennials have today; right now, Gen Xers have four times the assets and double the savings of younger adults.
Millennials now are facing the second once-in-a-lifetime downturn of their short careers. The first one put them on a worse lifetime-earnings trajectory and blocked them out of the asset market. The second is sapping their paychecks just as they enter their peak-earnings years, with 20 million kids relying on them, too. There’s no good news in a recession, and no good news in a pandemic. For Millennials, it feels like there is never any good news at all