Millennial Women Surging Ahead of Male Counterparts
In my E-Letter on Tuesday, my main topic focused on how over one-third of Millennials are living with their parents today, out of necessity. Today I want to follow up on that discussion and point out another major trend we all should be aware of regarding Millennials.
But before I get to our topic for today, the Commerce Department reported this morning that 1Q GDP rose at an annual rate of 1.4%, which was slightly above the pre-report consensus of 1.2%. It was the third and final report on 1Q GDP, which was originally estimated at only 0.9%.
The government reported that the upward revision from 1.2% in the second estimate was due to slightly higher consumer spending and an increase in exports in the 1Q. Otherwise, economic growth remains tepid at best. Now on to my main subject for today.
For decades, young men overshadowed young women in the job market, boasting higher education levels and grabbing the better-paying entry-level jobs with more opportunities for advancement. Forty or fifty years ago, more than half of younger women were out of the labor force, opting instead to stay at home and raise their families. It was largely a man’s world.
Yet that reality has changed significantly since then, as Millennial women have surged ahead of many of their male counterparts. For example, today close to 60% of all college students are women, whereas men made up the majority 40-50 years ago.
More than a third of young women today have a college degree or higher, compared to less than a quarter of young women in 1975. And 57% of them have full-time, year-round jobs now, compared to just 46% in 1975.
A recent US Census Bureau analysis showed that as more young women obtained college degrees, delayed having children and joined the workforce, they are edging out Millennial men for better-paying jobs.
Men have also fallen behind academically and, combined with the fact that many manufacturing and other lower-skilled jobs have disappeared, this has created a devastating situation for millions of young men.
Strikingly, more young men “are falling to the bottom of the income ladder,” as young women beat them out for jobs, the Census study concluded. Increasingly, men have struggled to land even modest-paying blue collar jobs.
For example, in 1975 only 25% of men aged 25 to 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year, the data shows. Yet by 2016, the share of young men with incomes of less than $30,000 rose to 41%. That’s a huge increase.
By contrast, the share of young women earning less than $30,000 during that same period declined significantly. And between 1975 and 2016, the share of younger women who earned $60,000 a year or more rose from about 2% to 13%, a sizeable change.
The problem for young men and women is a combination of stagnant wages, the rising cost of living and skyrocketing student debt. While college graduates of both sexes are being forced to take lower levels jobs, men are being hit particularly hard and are often forced to take contract or part-time work.
Many blue-collar jobs are being lost to automation or have been shipped overseas — adding to the challenge of many Millennials to find a job. At the same time, some of the fastest-growing job sectors, including healthcare and elderly care, are being dominated by women.
The Census Bureau analysis stresses that the “driving force” behind the major shift in income between young men and women has been largely the stunning rise of young women in the labor force with college degrees.
Although the percentage of men in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are employed is about the same today as it was in 1975, the share of young women who are employed has risen from just under one-half to over two-thirds.
Some demographic experts warn that these income and employment trends among Millennials could ultimately put an important cohort of society, young men, at a distinct economic disadvantage that could force many to delay the realization of the “American Dream” — including buying a car, getting married and buying a home.
Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, warned: “This has an effect on their entire lives. Those first jobs are going to set you up for your lifetime of earnings.”
Bottom Line: Academic and employment trends are worsening for Millennial men, while improving for Millennial women. There is much more to say on this topic, but I’ll leave it there for today.