Tough going for Millennials in the US: census data

Thanks to Derek Thompson of The Atlantic for this article on the latest US Census data.  The focus is how Millennials are doing relative to their parents’ generation, now that the former has reached solid working years.  Some thoughts:

  • I was surprised to hear that Detroit was one of the highest-earning cities in 1980, with huge income losses for this generation.  In my head, the wonder years of auto factory workers’ pay were earlier than that.
  • Lots of averages and medians to make headlines – the median Millennial is $2,000/year worse off than his/her parents, taking inflation into account.  So far my dad is right: this is the first generation where parents are better off than kids.
  • The continued prosperity along the coasts makes a lot of sense, given our society seems to be diverging into professional classes earning more and a shrinking middle class.  Those folks with college degrees, looking for entry-level white collar work, are almost certainly worse off than the previous generation.
  • Along the geographic split, there seems to be an obvious political takeaway: Republican interior states will most likely want to hear how they can resurrect the middle class, and/or save their kids from economic doom (example policies: blame immigrants, implement austerity, cut taxes).  Democrat coastal states will more likely be sanguine for more tax/spend (e.g. improve infrastructure, increase immigration, etc.).  In sum, the economic data support the central tenets of the main voting blocs in the various areas.

In sum: initial data support my dad’s thesis over mine (I’m optimistic Millennials will still do better than parents).  The separation among states makes this an interesting political issue – particularly if the main parties can get Millennials to vote.

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