If you were born between the years 1981 and 1997 or, in other words, are a millennial, chances are you’re making the same amount you would have over 30 years ago, despite the fact that you’re 50 percent more likely to be college educated than your 1980s-era counterparts and that our economy is 70 percent more productive than it was back then. According to the Center for American Progress, one of the main factors affecting millennial earning power—aside from things like student debt and the slow recovery of the economy in the wake of the economic downturn—is the “loose” nature of the job market, in which there are too many job seekers and not enough jobs. This modern market has severely limited the bargaining power of millennials, forcing them to take positions that pay less than they would have made in the same job ten years ago.
If this isn’t depressing enough to take in, the brief asserts that it will be incredibly difficult for millennials to achieve salary raises in 2016: “No matter how many books on salary negotiation that today’s workers—Millennials or otherwise—read, negotiating a raise in 2016 will be difficult without a healthy labor market. Employers do not raise wages because they feel generous—they raise wages because they have no other option in order to hire and retain qualified workers. When there are a dozen workers willing to do a job, it becomes that much harder to bargain for a higher wage. The current US labor market is still one where Millennials compete for jobs instead of employers competing for Millennials by offering them higher wages.”
A return to labor unions is one suggestion the brief offers for narrowing the power gap between employers and their millennial employees. For information on where the 2016 presidential candidates stand on labor unions, read more here. Another suggestion the brief makes for improving the outlook of millennials is that the Federal Reserve should keep interest rates stable. Find your candidate’s views specifically on student loan rates here.
Finally, the brief posits that in order for millennials to gain their financial footing, more robust paid leave policies are a necessity. More families than ever rely on two incomes just to cover basic living expenses, but it’s almost impossible for some parents to continue working after having children given the US does not guarantee maternity leave or offer affordable childcare options. Were these policies to be enacted here as they are in many other countries around the world, the brief asserts that the financial outlook and earning potential of millennials, particularly millennial women, would brighten considerably. Here is some information on the current politics of paid leave, which might be useful when it comes time to hit the polls later this year. Remember, your vote counts!