There are a lot of opinions about millennials these days.
Some people think they’re entitled.
Some people think they’re lazy. And some people think they’re so focused on being “special snowflakes” that they’re incapable of growing up.
But if we focus on stereotypes, we lose sight of the real story.
Millennials are indebted. Millennials feel stuck. And millennials are the least mobile generation since before the silent generation, according to census data.
Here’s why that’s a bigger problem than some people might think ― and what millennials can do about it.
The Millennial Conundrum
It’s no surprise that millennials are in debt. Student loans alone are reaching epic proportions, currently topping off at $1.44 trillion nationwide.
Student loan debt can keep millennials from hitting important milestones, including getting married, buying a home, and starting a family. It also might be standing in the way of their upward mobility and ability to relocate.
According to the United States Census Bureau and PEW Research Center:
Of people aged 25 to 29 in the U.S., only 24% moved residences between 2015 and 2016.
Generations before millennials, such as the silent generation and Generation X, saw a moving rate of 26% for people aged 25 to 35.
While it’s not a lot on paper, a 2% decline in the average moving rate could indicate a larger problem.
Why Millennials Aren’t Moving
Since the data on the moving rate of millennials came from a survey, millennials weren’t able to say why they aren’t changing residences.
However, for those readers who think millennials aren’t moving because they’d rather live with their parents, consider the following alternatives:
Student loan payments are so high that millennials struggle to save enough to move, which requires a large upfront investment.
According to statistics from CNN, the average pay for millennials in the workforce is too low for them to be able to pay their loans and save money for other goals, such as moving.
Difficulty finding work in their fields could make the idea of moving too risky, even if the only way to find work in their fields is, in fact, to move.
Plus, many millennials aged 22 to 27 who graduated from college are working jobs that don’t require a degree, according to CNN. What’s more, 44% of 20-somethings are working jobs that require minimal skills and offer low pay ― the highest it’s been in 20 years.
And these numbers are distinctly different from generations past, according to CNN:
Less than 40% of college graduates earn $45,000 or more.
20% of millennials earn less than $20,000.
When you combine high debt and low pay, it’s no wonder many millennials feel stuck both physically and financially.
What You Can Do If You’re A Millennial In Debt
American culture is all about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. But if you’re a millennial in debt, then you might feel like you have cement blocks tied to your boots.
I know how it feels. I also struggled with student loan debt ($107,000 of it to be exact). However, I was able to find creative strategies to get out.
Here’s how you can do the same:
If you are earning a stable income but have a lot of debt, consider refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate.
If you have money saved and want to move for more opportunity, consider moving to a no-income-tax stateto ensure the money you earn ends up in your pocket.
If you’re struggling with your student loans, look into student loan repayment assistance programs or income-driven repayment plans.
Why We Need To Pay Attention To Statistics (Not Stereotypes)
People like to talk about millennials. But the truth is the economic landscape is changing and creating financial choices for millennials that didn’t exist for previous generations.
What’s more, if college tuition continues to rise, student loan debt likely will as well. Future graduates will need a strong job market and pay potential to bridge the gap.
Chalking up an entire generation to a surface-level stereotype buries the cause behind the trends. And if we don’t know the truth, we can’t fix the problem.
Until then, know that you do have options if you’re feeling stuck. Sometimes, it just takes research and creativity.