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16th March 2016

The “Generation Y” problem

Young adults today are financially worse off than any age group over the last 30 years

Experts say that the Generation Y—people born in the 80s up to the mid-90s—demographic has been hit hardest by the economic crash in 2008. Recent research claims a “perfect storm” of factors have combined, putting young people in an extremely difficult position compared with their elder counterparts.

It is nothing new for young people to hear that their current economic position is somewhat precarious. Since the economic crash, global statistics on youth unemployment, graduate prospects, house prices and living costs have all made fairly bleak reading for the millennials.

A study by the National Office for Statistics found that in almost all countries which were considered as part of the research that young people suffered relative income losses compared with the generation before them. Pensioners’ disposable income, however, had increased. There are calls to address the problem that have seen a complete reversal from young adults earning more than the average national wage to them earning 20 per cent less nowadays.

Experts warn a broad set of socio-economic problems may arise from what is seen as a growing marginalisation of millennials and critics of the government will claim there is already evidence of this as the cost of living continues to climb.

According to homeless charity Shelter, “house prices are now almost seven times people’s incomes.” This comes as the nation has seen an increase in homelessness, particularly among young people.

In research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission published last year, young people were singled out as particularly vulnerable. Individuals from the 16-to-24 age range were the most likely to be living in poverty.

London, which is often seen as the epitome of modern inequality in the UK, has become an increasingly difficult place for young people to live. According to the real estate company Rightmove, the average house price in the capital stands at £548,857. The average rent fee per month is currently at £1,500, a figure that sparked protests last year as part of wider demonstrations opposing what charities like Shelter are calling a housing crisis.

Beyond these acute social concerns is also the difficulty in accessing the job market. The crash in 2008 has had devastating effects on young graduates’ job opportunities and is seen as central to the growing economic disparity between generation Y and the rest of the population.

The job market appears a very fluid entity, with a host of conflicting research and opinion on the matter. Some purport, despite graduate opportunities shrinking in the wake of the recession, that there have been recent signs of slow improvement.

A study last year reported a record 68.2 per cent of graduates were in professional roles and a survey conducted by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services found that “81.5 per cent of respondents agree that the graduate labour market was more buoyant in the year to 31 July 2015 than the previous year.”

The Complete University Guide scores the University of Manchester’s career prospects at 75.5 per cent, with Imperial College London topping the list with 89.9 per cent. Economic analysts have warned a British exit from the EU could harm graduate prospects, the job market, and the UK economy as a whole.

Although the outlook for graduates may have improved marginally, critics of generational inequality will argue the position of millennials in society is, for students, one characterised by debt, and with those most economically vulnerable suffering the most.

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