Millennials Stand On Shakier Financial Ground Than Older Generations

By Rosanna Xia and Rong-Gong Lin II
Los Angeles Times.

California’s millennials experience greater unemployment, earn less money and are far more likely to still be living with their parents than young adults from earlier generations, according to a new comprehensive analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Officials examined how young adults ages 18 through 34 have fared in the aftermath of the Great Recession and found economic distress both nationally and in California.

Only 62% of young adults in California were employed in the last five years, down from 71% a generation ago. For those who worked, millennials saw median earnings slide back from 1980, falling from about $37,000 to $35,700 in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars.

A generation ago, 14.7% of young adults in California were living in poverty; now it’s at 18.6%.

What it means to be a young adult also is changing. More than 1 in 3 are living with a parent, up from 1 in 5 in the previous generation.

Holding off on marriage has become the norm, with more than 2 out of 3 young Californians never married, when in 1980, more than half had already been married.

California’s never-married percentage is higher than many other states, said demographer Jonathan Vespa of the Census Bureau, which published Young Adults: Then and Now using the American Community Survey’s 2009-2013 data, released Thursday.

“Let’s say you’re a kid out of college and your first job, you’re getting paid $40,000 a year,” said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. “You want to live in a safe neighborhood in Los Angeles, with decent access to jobs, transit, et cetera. You’re looking at $1,400 to $1,500 a month in rent. So that means you’re paying $18,000 a year out of your $40,000 just in rent.”

Add up student debt, taxes, car payments and gas — “You put that all together, it’s really hard to save,” he said.

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