Young Americans have many financial obstacles placed in their way. Many older Americans like to chime in and blast younger Americans as being weak and complaining too much but the facts tell a different story. Millennials do have it economically tougher. Quality of life is up (for all) but the standard of living is getting harder to keep up with. To achieve that middle class lifestyle that baby boomers achieved with very little education and in many cases a blue collar job now requires a two income households and mountains of student debt just to get there. It is also the case that young Americans are now living at home in record numbers because of economic necessity. Millennials are the most employed generation in food services and the military. What does that tell you?
Millennials and occupational choices
It is expected that younger Americans will largely take on some sort of jobs. But the number of Millennials in the military and food services tells you something deeper. Keep in mind that at one point, manufacturing would have had a big opening for young workers as it did with the baby boomer generation. So the options for many are: food services, military, or go to college to try to get into the middle class.
The data is rather clear. First look at military representation:
“(DataUSA) With a median age of 29, military workers represent the youngest broad occupational group. This is most likely because of the military’s high physical standards, formal standards of hiring young people, and early retirement (often after just 20 years of service). Unsurprisingly, the military is overwhelmingly made up by men.”
That is to be expected. What the above figures don’t show however is that young men and women only a generation ago would have been taking up more manufacturing jobs. So the blue collar segment of our economy is largely hollowed out and hence the political undertones of the 2016 election.
Take a look at figures for food services:
“Food service workers make up the second youngest occupation. With an average salary of $16,202, these jobs are commonly taken by Millennials as they attempt to enter the economy. There is only a slightly larger percentage of women in this profession, making it a relatively gender neutral occupation category.”
We have an enormous number of people working in food services, in many cases being over represented by young Americans. Incredibly low pay with little benefits and certainly nothing left over to save after the monthly bills are paid. This is why the typical net worth of someone 35 and younger is actually zero dollars (assets minus liabilities).
People try to underplay manufacturing but look at the change here:
Manufacturing up until the 1950s made up over 30 percent of all jobs. Today it is less than 10 percent. These were good paying jobs that went to many younger workers without college degrees and allowed them to plan for the future. Opportunities for growth and saving for retirement are almost nonexistent. Pensions are largely dead. You aren’t going to have much to save after working at Chipotle or McDonald’s.
Here is another telling chart showing total retail workers and those in manufacturing:
We now have more retail workers than those in manufacturing. Yes, let us keep on listening to the older generation and how easy Millennials have it when they were a generation that had access to a middle class lifestyle without a college degree.