Note to Millennials from your elders: Achieving the American Dream is going to be harder for you.
To young adults in the first blush of their careers and just starting to make their way in the world in pursuit of the American Dream, your predecessors have this cautionary note: It’s probably going to be more of a struggle for you.
Roughly 80 percent of Affluent Americans either “strongly agree” or “agree” that future generations will struggle to achieve the American Dream,” according to a new survey conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner.
And while young Americans may be more optimistic than their elders about their future financial prospects, they aren’t completely clueless about the challenges they will face in realizing the American Dream. Across all age groups, respondents under 40 were the most likely (36 percent) to “strongly agree” that future generations will struggle in their attainment of the American Dream, compared with 19 percent of those ages 41-50 and 39 percent each of Baby Boomers and seniors over the age of 65. They were also more likely to say that the American Dream is harder to obtain now (39 percent vs. 27 percent of overall respondents).
The ideal of the American Dream is humming along. The August American Dream Composite Index, compiled by Xavier University, increased by 0.45 percent for a reading of 64.40. Three of the ADCI’s five indices posted increases, the American Dream Economic Index (up 2.17 percent in August), the Well-Being Index (up 0.26 percent) and the Environment Index (up 3.77 percent). The Societal Index and the Diversity Index each dipped in August, 0.80 percent and 1l.61 percent, respectively.
The dip in the Societal Index was driven by lower levels of satisfaction with respect to trust in government. The political climate is viewed by Affluent investors surveyed by Millionaire Corner to be the biggest obstacle in achieving the American Dream today. This is not considered to be as important by younger households as educational costs (41 percent vs. 49 percent), which have left many burdened by student debt that has forced them to delay such adult rites of passage as buying a home, marrying and starting a family.
But they are more likely than their elder counterparts to consider career opportunities (or lack of them) as their biggest obstacle to achieving the American Dream (30 percent vs. 24 percent of Affluent respondents overall). The unemployment rate for Millennials ages 18-29 is 15.5 percent. This figure, adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work.
Still, in the here and now, young Americans are more likely than previous generations to project the rosiest forecast for their financial futures. In a separate 2014 Millionaire Corner wealth level study of Millionaire households, 77 percent of respondents under the age of 44 expect their financial situation to be stronger in one year, compared to 65 percent of those between the ages of 45-54, 59 percent of Baby Boomers ages 55-64, and 52 percent of seniors over the age of 65.
Almost half (48 percent) are concerned whether they will be able to retire when they want, compared with 58 percent of those between 45-54.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.