Ceylin Arias/Staff Writer
Millennials today are generally more educated than prior generations and are the largest group employed in the U.S. economy, yet they’re currently facing a more difficult economic situation than their own parents did, according to the chairman of the University’s Economics department.
Millennials are considered to be those between the ages of 18 and 34, according to The New York Times article “We’re Making Life too Hard for Millennials” by Steven Rattner. Rattner acknowledges that “those who graduate in weaker economic times typically earn less than those who enter the workforce during more robust periods. Starting behind often means never catching up.”
As a result of being born into “weaker economic times,” millennials in the U.S. generally tend to live at home with their parents. In South Florida specifically, the percentage is 49 percent which is by far the highest percentage observed in the nation, according to Cem Karayalcin, Economics professor and Chairman in the Department of Economics.
Cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Karayalcin said, are the most expensive cities in South Florida in terms of cost of living. Yet, despite the higher cost, millennials tend to live in metropolitan areas because that’s where post-graduate jobs are.
Given the demand in jobs, in housing, and the location of the city, certain areas such as South Beach, a hotspot for tourists, do not make it ideal places for college students to live in, according to Karayalcin.
“Unfortunately, it is the first time in some 90 years that we have cohorts of people whose income is less than the income of their parents. If millennials were to live on their own, they would be spending 90 percent of their income on rent,” said Karayalcin.
The struggle of maintaining costs on their own is sometimes much more than what some can handle, according to Sabrina Fernandez, a senior double majoring in art history and spanish.
“Although moving out on your own seems like a great idea at first and overall it is because you gain so much more independence, it can be hard to juggle the responsibilities that come with it,” said Fernandez. “I share a two-bedroom apartment with my two best friends. It’s a total relief to split the rent amongst us, but if I’m not conscientious enough about how much I spend weekly, I’m doomed until my next paycheck.”
Though millennials are having trouble making ends meet on their own, they face higher unemployment rates and have an average debt of $30,000 due to college loans.
If the economic situation facing millennials continue, Karayalcin predicts the situation will worsen for millennials and future generations in the long-term.
“The hope is that for millennials at least because they have college education and become more serious when they enter the labor market, their income will rise,” she said.
Along with an increase in the attendance of higher education, millennials are also postponing marriage.
“The cost of living is significantly higher than what their parents faced, so they are economically forced to continue living with their parents and continue to postpone marriage. Such a difficult economic situation calls for unforeseen sacrifices,” said Karayalcin.
That is why junior Cindy Zelaya, majoring in chemistry, decided to not live in a dorm her freshman year.
“I knew the costs would outweigh the benefits of living alone. I wasn’t mentally or physically ready yet to work full-time and sustain myself on the little bit I would be earning because everything would be going to pay bills. I’m better off working a part-time, saving what I earn and taking small responsibilities to pay one or two things by myself rather than a whole overload,” Zelaya said.
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