American greatness was long premised on the common assumption was that each generation would do better than previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.
The problems facing millennials include an economy where job growth has been largely in service and part-time employment, producing lower incomes; the Census bureau estimates they earn, even with a full-time job, $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age group made in 1980. More millennials, notes a recent White House report, face far longer period of unemployment and suffer low rates of labor participation. More than 20 percent of people 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980.
One common meme, particularly in the mainstream media, has been that millennials don’t want to buy homes. The new generation, as Fast Company breathlessly reported, is part of “an evolution of consciousness.” Other suggest the young have embraced “the sharing economy,” so that owning a home is simply not to their taste. The well-named site Elite Daily asserts that the vast majority of millennials are headed to “frenetic metropolis” rather than becalmed suburbs.
But it’s not a lifestyle choice but economics—high prices and low incomes—that are keeping millennials from buying homes. In survey after survey the clear majority of millennials—roughly 80 percent, including the vast majority of renters—express interest in acquiring a home of their own. Nor are they allergic, as many suggest, to the idea of raising a family, albeit often at a later age, long a major motivation for home ownership. Roughly 80 percent of millennials say they plan to get married, and most of them are planning to have children.