Rising journalist and fellow millennial Andrew Stiles is all too familiar with the financial realities of his generation—inescapable student debt, insufficient jobs, and the sort of apathetic response to the inevitable Social Security drainage that will leave them empty-handed in old age. But rather than resigning or whining, Stiles employs both humor and research to illustrate what is turning out to be a “bleakenomic” future for millennials.
Some of his key findings include:
- U.S. debt is approaching 100 percent of GDP, the highest level since World War II.
- By 2050, debt is on track to reach an unprecedented 145 percent of GDP. Under one pessimistic (but probably more realistic) scenario, CBO estimates that debt could rise to 244 percent of GDP, which means lights out.
- By 2050, federal spending is projected to exceed 29 percent of GDP, levels not seen since the height of World War II. We’re on track to spending more money on baby boomers in retirement than we did to defeat the Nazis.
- Since 1984, the median net worth for households headed by someone under the age of 35 has declined 68 percent. For retirement age households, net worth has increased 42 percent over that same period. The result is the largest generational wealth gap in history. Boomers did better than their kids in early adulthood, and will do better than their kids in retirement.
- As millennials remain childless and single for longer, they face one of the highest tax rates (16.9 percent) for their demographic in the developed world.
The millennial reality is harsh, but Stiles does not wallow in it. Rather, he uses the data as a slap in the face to shame boomers and wake up millennials to save, vote, and work for change in a system that can’t continue.