For those of us trying to pay off student loans while simultaneously paying for childcare and saving for our children's future college tuition, this is hardly a surprise, but a recent report by Axios illustrates a troubling truth: Life has changed for Americans aged 25 to 34, and not in a good way.
The Motherly team has said this before: It really is harder to get by these days, and the data graphed by Axios shows it's just simple math. While the line for median income is straight across from 1977 to 2016, the graph for the cost of college increases steeply, and our debt is now a treacherous mountain range.
The report also dives into the reasons why this generation is having fewer children than our predecessors.
"Millennials are more risk averse than earlier generations at the same age. People 50 or even 25 years ago didn't wait to be 'financially well established' before starting a family. Now it's considered irresponsible not to," Richard Jackson the president of the Global Aging Institute, told Axios.
The data echoes the results of a recent Morning Consult survey by the New York Times: Financial concerns are a huge factor for millennials when it comes to having kids. Student debt was a factor for 13% of those who decided not to have kids at all, and for those who did have kids, but not as many as they would like, 43% said they "waited too long because of financial instability." Further, 64% said their family is smaller than what they would consider ideal because childcare is just too expensive.
With incomes flatlining while debt and education costs grow, more and more families need two incomes to make ends meet, which means childcare is an expense that many just can't cut from the monthly budget. This is another way in which our generation's reality differs from those who came before. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1975 less than half of mothers were working. By 2000, 73% of moms were.
We need childcare, but that's another line that just keep climbing. A recent survey by Care.com found 60% of parents report their child care costs have increased in the past year, and "the average weekly rate for a nanny has risen over $100 since 2013." In 2013, the average weekly rate for child care center in the U.S. was $186. In 2017, that number shot up to $211.
Is it any wonder with all these costs rising and our incomes not that the rate of homeownership is down compared to previous generations?
As Motherly's Senior News Writer, Emily Glover, previously wrote, "That's yet another goal that is simply harder to obtain today."
"As United States Census Bureau data shows, the median home price in America in 1940 was $2,930. Adjusted for inflation, that should have been just over $30,000 by 2000. Instead it was $119,000—which jumped to close to $200,000 by 2017."
There's no way around it, all these reports, polls, data points and graphs paint a pretty dismal picture of the thirty-something life as a millennial. But what the lines don't show is that we are a resilient, resourceful generation that is incredibly invested in making things better for the next generation.
Millennial dads may not have the same earning potential as their dads did, but they're spending more time with their kids, and that's something to celebrate.
And despite all the concerns about how we're blowing all our money on guac and Netflix, millennial parents are actually pretty great with money (because we kind of have to be).
Yes, it's hard out there mamas, but it's so worth it. Love is a lot harder to graph, but it may change how these lines look 30 years from now.