Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1997) are being paid less than ever before, regardless of where they live.
According to 2014 microdata from the U.S. Census compiled by the Minnesota Population Center, the median wage for millennial earners doesn’t go above $27,500 per year in any of the 50 states (Washington, DC is the lone exception, with the median millennial wage coming up to $43,000), and some millennials earn an average of just $18,000 per year. Because some millennials are college-age and only work part-time, the data skews downward. However, this is still a pittance compared to the average head of household income for 2014 of $35,876.
One of the key things holding back most millennials is student debt, which is now at $1.3 trillion and climbing, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Data dating back to 2006 shows that student loan debt is increasing at $2,726 per second. As an increasingly large percentage of young Americans’ income goes toward paying down student loans, that leaves less for rent, health insurance, car payments, groceries, and recreation. Roughly 40 million Americans are paying down student debt.
Perhaps the leading culprit of why so many millennials live on the precipice of poverty is the exponentially rising cost of a college education, which is seen as essential in order to be competitive for high-paying jobs. Kalamazoo Gazette columnist Julie Mack broke down the difference between what baby boomers paid for college when they were young, and what millennials face today:
I entered Jackson Community College in fall 1977, where my tuition was $15 a credit hour, about $58 in today’s dollars. When I transferred to Michigan State University in 1979, my tuition for the year was about $1,500, or about $4,900 adjusted for inflation.
Compare that to the current average tuition for Michigan’s public universities: $11,450 for 2014-15. Meanwhile, Kalamazoo Valley Community College now charges $91 for Kalamazoo County residents and $156 a credit hour for out-of-district students.
Where does your state stack up in how much millennials make? Check the map below, courtesy of Business Insider:
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.