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Survey: Millennials Believe Economy Is Failing Them

A new survey by Ernst & Young and Economic Innovation Group found that “millennials” — those born in the 1980s or later — are a deeply pessimistic generation that is willing to work hard, but is “convinced the economy is failing them,” and is “very uncertain” about the future.

The study shows that most millennials are living in quiet desperation. They face a job market that has left even normally employable new college graduates out of work, or employed at well below their potential as baristas, temps, or in low-level retail jobs.

Millennials understand that this situation will have a substantial impact on their lifetime earnings, due to depressed early years and and due to finding themselves on a lower income track than those few that landed higher-quality roles straight out of college.

According to EIG cofounder and executive director Steve Glickman:

The Millennial mindset was dramatically impacted by the harsh economic realities of the Great Recession, which has made them remarkably politically independent, economically pessimistic, and skeptical of traditional institutions. What the establishment doesn’t understand is that in their minds, Millennials did all of the right things – they worked hard, got their education — but they incurred huge amounts of debt and the job market they inherited hasn’t rewarded any of these sacrifices. Now they are deeply concerned about their future.

Key takeaways about Millennials from the survey:

  • 32 percent believe their local community is still in a recession;
  • 30 percent are not making enough money to cover expenses;
  • 35 percent are making just enough money to cover expenses;
  • 24 percent are making a little more money than needed to cover expenses;
  • 6 percent are making a lot more money than needed to cove expenses;
  • 30 percentof respondents live with their parents, which rises to 40 percent for singles;
  • 78 percent of millennials are worried about having good-­paying job opportunities;
  • 74 percent are worried they won’t be able to pay their healthcare bills if they get sick;
  • 79 percent are worried they will not have enough money to live on when they retire;
  • 63 percent would have difficulty covering an unexpected $500 expense.

Millennials deeply admire entrepreneurship and believe it is the key to economic success, despite the fact that 90 percent of all new businesses fail within three years. Millennials also believe their biggest impediment to starting their own business is capital:

  • 55 percent believe their generation is more entrepreneurial than past ones;
  • 78 percent consider entrepreneurs successful;
  • 62 percent of have considered starting their own business;
  • 42 percent believe they do not have the financial means to start their own business.

Millennials have a very low level of confidence in American institutions. They are “skeptical of the establishment,” while “remaining fiercely patriotic and supportive of a leading role for the United States in the world”:

  • 20 percent express low levels of confidence in nearly every American institution;
  • 20 percent have high faith in corporate America, governors, and the news media;
  • Of 13 institutions polled, only colleges and military have majority confidence;
  • 84 percent are proud to be an American.

Millennials are generally comfortable with their own tax burden, but they remain concerned about fairness in the tax system.

  • 53 percent who filed a tax return believe the amount they paid was about right;
  • The older they get, the greater they feel their tax burden increases;
  • Seventy percent think the wealthy pay too little, and 56 percent think lower income Americans pay too much.

Millennials tend to prioritize federal spending on education and entitlements:

  • 64 percent would prioritize spending on public education;
  • 46 percent would prioritize spending on Social Security and Medicare;
  • 74 percent believe that Social Security won’t be there when they retire.

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