You’re a millennial, and you’re familiar with the criticism your age group gets from older generations. You see op-eds, social media posts, and news segments every day condemning millennials for their choices. What these people don’t recognize is that as a member of the millennial generation, you have been experiencing serious challenges for your entire adult life through no fault of your own.
Instead of criticizing other generations, people should try to understand and empathize with the issues that have shaped your life.
Here Are Seven Problems Millennials Face Today
1. Student Debt
It’s more common for millennials to have postsecondary degrees than older generations. More jobs in today’s market require a bachelor’s degree or higher, so many millennials felt like they had no choice but to go to college.
Unfortunately, these degrees come at a massive cost. Student loan debt is one of the biggest problems for the millennial generation today. According to Forbes, the total student loan debt in the U.S. is $1.56 trillion, and the average student loan for an individual is $32,731.
If you’re a recent grad with a student loan, you may be throwing hundreds of dollars every month toward your debt. Many millennials report feeling financially stunted because they’re drowning in student loans. With such high payments, it feels difficult to get ahead. Your student loan may have played a major role in where you chose to live or work, which can make you feel controlled by your debt.
Millennials make up a large percentage of the unemployed population in the United States. Even more are underemployed, which means they’re only working part-time or aren’t working a job that fully utilizes their skill set.
Most millennials graduated college or entered the workforce around the time of the Great Recession. Trying to start a career or find any employment at all during the worst economic crisis since the 1930s was difficult or impossible. Over the last 10 years, the unemployment rate steadily dropped. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to skyrocket once again, and no one knows what the next few years will look like.
3. Lower Wages
Wages have not kept up with inflation. Compared to earlier generations, the millennial generation makes less when adjusting for inflation, and they face other financial problems like massive student loans.
Those who work minimum wage jobs see the biggest disparity. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour hasn’t increased since 2009. Even in states that have set a higher minimum wage, you’d have to work two full-time jobs to afford rent.
Combined with a rise in cost of living, these stagnating wages are devastating. Many millennials struggle to pay their bills and debts, let alone build wealth or invest in retirement. According to one survey, 63 percent of millennials would have a hard time paying $500 for an unexpected expense, and only 6 percent feel like they’re making much more than they need to cover their basic costs of living.
4. Job Environment
With older generations, it was common for someone to work for the same company from their 20s to retirement. Most millennials won’t see this amount of consistency in their employment.
A survey from Gallup found that 21 percent of millennials changed jobs within the last year. Only half said they strongly agreed that they would be working at the same company in one year. The norm for millennials is to change employers every few years because this provides the best opportunity for advancing their careers.
Many feel like their employers don’t care about them, so they in turn don’t show much loyalty to the companies they work for. Some younger people are constantly job hunting no matter their current employment situation. This instability and unpredictability can be very stressful.
5. Housing Costs
On average, millennials’ wages haven’t risen to keep up with increasing housing costs. According to research from Student Loan Hero, millennials buying homes today will have to pay 39 percent more than those who bought a house in the 1980s. When you consider how much student loan debt they have as well, you can see why fewer millennials are buying homes than earlier generations.
Renters are facing the same problem. The average rent today is more than $1,300. Adjusting for inflation, those in Gen X paid an average of $850, and the Silent Generation paid less than $500. Saving up for a down payment when almost all of your income goes toward rent and student loans feels like a pipe dream for many.
6. Caring for Aging Parents
Taking care of parents as they age isn’t a challenge unique to millennials. As the members of this generation reach their 30s and 40s, their parents will start to require more care. A survey from Caring Advisor found that around half of millennials are already taking care of their parents, and many others are in the planning stages.
Nursing homes, adult day programs, home health services, and other professional options can get expensive quickly. Many people would prefer to live with their parents to care for them instead. Moving back in with your parents or having your parents move in with you is a major life change, and caring for them is an enormous responsibility.
7. Mental Health Concerns
With all of these financial, economical, and professional challenges, it’s no surprise that millennials are feeling the stress. A study from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates found that around 20 percent of millennials report depression related to their job.
It’s hard to know exactly how millennials compare in their mental health to older generations. Although mental health disorders are still stigmatized, younger people tend to be more open about their mental health struggles. More people than ever have opened up in recent years about experiencing mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health problems.
Some speculate that financial challenges are the driving force behind mental illness in the United States. Others believe that social media has a negative impact on young people’s mental health because it leads to constant comparison with others. Regardless of the cause, it’s clear that mental health is a big concern for many.
Therapy for Millennials
If you’re a millennial, at least one of these problems probably resonates with you. All generations have their challenges, and young adults today are facing employment challenges, a high cost of living, and other stressors. These issues can take a serious toll on your mental health, which shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, make sure to take care of your emotional health so that you can tackle life’s challenges head-on.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers specialized counseling for a wide variety of mental health concerns millennials face today. If you’ve been struggling with a mental health problem, contact us today. We’re here to help you take steps toward improving your mental health so that you can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.