Nearly Half of Millennials Believe the American Dream is Dead

Young Americans making less than $25,000 is at highest level since 1990s

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January 15, 2016

Nearly half of millennials, or 48 percent, believe that the American Dream is dead, according to a report from Generation Opportunity.

The report, which evaluates the outlook for millennials on various economic indicators, finds that many young adults have lower levels of personal income and wealth and higher levels of student loan debt than the two previous generations.

One of those metrics is the unemployment rate, which is 8 percent for millennials ages 18 to 29, which is much higher than the rate for those 30 years and older at 3.7 percent. The labor force participation rate, which accounts for those who either have a job or pursued one, is 71 percent, the lowest it has ever been. Many young adults have been unable to find work, and more than 1.8 million have given up looking for a job.

The percentage of millennials living in poverty has doubled since 1979 and many have incurred thousands of dollars in student loan debt. According to the report, nearly 70 percent of the graduating class of 2014 had student loan debt at an average of $30,000 per person.

Median earnings for college graduates have only increased 6 percent from 2007 to 2014. There are more young people today making less than $25,000 than there were in the 1990s.

Many millennials have also altered significant life events due to these economic hardships including delaying marriage and purchasing a home.

"Only 36 percent of Americans under 35 years old own a home, the lowest level on record since home ownership by age was first tabulated," states the report. "Instead, Millennials are choosing to live with their parents at levels higher than observed before the Great Recession. In 2015, 26 percent reported they still live with mom and dad."

"Washington’s policies have saddled us with overwhelming debt, unemployment, and soaring higher education costs," said David Barnes, policy director of Generation Opportunity.

"Young people are losing faith in the American Dream," Barnes said. "It’s time for real reforms that allow us to unleash our potential and create a better society for ourselves and future generations. In order for that to happen, we need to stand up and let policy makers know that this is unacceptable."