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Are Millennials a “Lost Generation”?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind
Daily Ticker

It’s hard out there for a Millennial. While the national unemployment rate has kept firm at 7.9%, the jobless rate for Millennials (or the 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000) continues to increase, reaching the alarming rate of 13.1% in January. Millennials now have the highest generational unemployment in the United States.

The Pew Center calls Millennials the “boomerang generation," because nearly 40% of all Americans between the ages of 18-34 still live at home with their parents; numbers this high haven’t been seen in over 70 years. And the boomerang trend is expected to continue or even worsen. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that those who graduate during a recession will earn 10% less over a decade of work. Unfortunately for Millennials, research shows that 70% of overall wage growth occurs in the first 10 years of one's career.

But those who do manage to find jobs are also struggling. Young people with high school degrees have seen their inflation-adjusted wages decline by 11.1%; college graduates have seen a smaller, yet significant, decline of 5.4%, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

As a result, Millennials aren’t taking on debt or making economy-boosting purchases. Young people aren’t buying houses or cars and they’re delaying marriage and children. According to The Pew Center, home ownership amongst young people has fallen from 40% in 2007 to only 34% in 2011. 73% of young households owned or leased a car in 2007 compared with only 66% in 2011.

Many have also begun to wonder if college is worth the cost — outstanding student loan debt now tops $1 trillion. In 2011, two-thirds of college seniors graduated with an average of $26,000 in student loan debt.

Gerald Celente, Editor and Publisher of the Trends Journal, believes the depressed livelihoods of today's younger generation — "generation eff'ed" as he refers to it in a recent edition of his magazine — will lead to a revolution of sorts.

"The new frontiers are going to be the burnt out urban centers, so it might be the Millennials who become the homesteaders, farmers, and gardeners of Detroit, or Camden," says Celente. "When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, they lose it. And you're going to start seeing a lot of young people losing it in a lot of different ways."

These are startling statistics and advocates have run with them calling Millennials a “lost generation,” attempting to parlay unrest amongst America’s youth into some sort of rallying cry or at least attempting to appeal to them as a voting bloc.

Yes, the numbers are staggering but calling Millennials a lost generation and telling young people to stop attending college seems alarmist at best.

While the unemployment rate for young workers is nearly twice as high as the overall rate, it still pays to stay in school. Between 2011 and 2012 the unemployment rate for High School graduates was 31.1% while the unemployment rate for college graduates was 9.4%, a significant difference.

Of course young people have a harder time finding employment than their adult contemporaries; they have less experience and are new to searching for work. In both recessions and expansions young unemployment is historically nearly double the national rate.

Millennials aren’t the new homesteaders, they’re not moving in droves to abandoned urban centers like Detroit to farm and start art galleries. This view of young Americans applies largely to those with liberal arts educations and money to fall back on.

Are Millennials really “generation eff’ed”?

While things don’t look great for the current generation of young adults, they are not hopeless. Let’s not disregard 80 million Americans.

Be sure to watch the video above for Celente's contrary opinion.

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