The largest group in the U.S., according to a recent review of Census Data, is none other than 23-year-olds. At 4.3 million, they outnumber every other living age group.
Bloomberg Businessweek notes that these millennials are part of a greater whole of 44.5 million people who are in their twenties.
Those in their fifties rank second at around 43.8 million, while the third place group are those in their forties (41.7 million), and fourth are thirty-somethings at 41 million.
While the twenty-somethings have the numbers department clinched, they do, as Bloomberg points out, have a lot of problems facing them as the largest group in the U.S.
From the report:
“By now we’re all familiar with the plight of the millennial generation, those born after 1980. They owe the bulk of America’s $1 trillion in student debt. They have little or no savings. A third still live at home with their parents. Those with jobs are often underemployed and underpaid. Not only have they delayed the typical trappings of adulthood — marriage, home, kids — they may be stuck in perpetual adolescence.”
Ouch. In other words, there are a lot of problems facing them, and they’re sort of behind the curve.
But to hear Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank, tell it, they may be just fine in spite of all this.
“This youth bulge is what makes the U.S. special right now,” Slok said. “Though they may not be as well-off on an individual basis, their sheer size will help overcome that. The simple act of adding more workers will by itself create more wealth.”
According to William Emmons, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “While [baby] boomers rode the momentum they created, they also spent their lives competing with one another for scarce resources. In school, this meant crowded classrooms. At work, this eventually translated to lower wages.”
As Bloomberg notes, “Today’s 23-year-olds are starting their work lives in a weaker economy than the one the boomers entered. Yet they are better off than older millennials who graduated from college in the worst of the recession. While today’s economy isn’t great, it’s certainly better than it was a few years ago.”
“By and large they dodged the bullet,” added Emmons. “I’m actually very optimistic about the prospects of today’s 23-year-olds.”
What evidence is there to back up this optimism? According to the Bloomberg piece:
“After three years of declines, the median household income of a 22-year-old born in 1991 jumped to $30,000 last year. That’s 5 percent more than what those a year older than them were making when they were 22. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is still 11 percent, but that’s down from 13 percent two years ago. They’re not crushed by debt.”
Emmons added, “The data suggests that the younger millennials have been the most aggressive at avoiding and paying down debt.”
Do you think millennials, and in particular 23-year-olds, the largest group in the U.S., have a bright future, or is this report overly optimistic?
[Image via ShutterStock]