A new study released today brings a whole new meaning to every Baby Boomer's chastising "When I was your age..." speech.
Boomers, during the same same life stage as today's Millennials, owned twice the value of assets and earned a 20 percent higher salary, according to Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Young Invincibles.
Referencing the Survey of Consumer Finances, a public survey of 6,500 people by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the study compares the financial status of 25- to 34-year-olds in 1989 with those of the same age in 2013.
While today's young adults are more educated than their parents' generation, a college degree saddled with student debt does little to boost financial security today. A Millennial with a college degree and student debt today earns the equivalent of what a young adult without a college degree earned in 1989. What's more, those with debt have a lower net wealth than their peers who have only a high school education.
The study also delves into the large gap in financial security among ethnicities. African American Millennials have 1/10th of the wealth of their white counterparts today. Latinos and African Americans earn 64 cents and 57 cents, respectively, for every dollar earned by white Millennials. While Latino young adults are outearning what their parents made 25 years ago, young African Americans' net worth has declined by nearly a third since 1989.
Young Invincibles, which advocates for Millennials in debates on education, jobs, and health care, points out that "young adults' financial security is the financial security of America as a whole."
It recommends reforming minimum wage and housing policies to address baseline needs for young people. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and providing protection for low-income workers would benefit Millennials who are leading the charge in today's nontraditional work force (and often struggling financially for it). The group also stresses the importance of Pell Grants, financial aid and apprenticeship programs to ensure young people have access to affordable education, which will in turn earn them higher wages.