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Millenials Join the Workforce: It Started with a Dream… Now what?

Victor Nordenson |

The national unemployment rate might be decreasing, but when we are looking at the same metric for the 80 million US Millennials, we see a staggering 13.1%. Interestingly enough, Yankelovich reports that the median salary for college graduates and the cost of education seem to be inversely related. As the median salary has decreased, the cost of education has increased, rising two to three times faster than inflation. With that fact in hand, it should not come as a surprise that student loan debt is increasing. In early 2013, student loan debt surpassed the $1 trillion mark, and is growing at almost $2,900 per second.

For me, it started with a dream, and ended with a diploma. I had graduated college. In the midst of all the celebration, I suddenly realized: I am on my own. Millennials are supposed to be the next big generation, assuming the role of the most powerful consumer demographic in history.

I was feeling far away from assuming that role, and my financial situation pushed me even further away from writing history.

I was one of the fortunate Millennials to find a job, a so-called Young Professional. In general, this fortunate sub-segment believes that the future is bright. Yankelovich recently posted data that we Millennial YoPros are less likely to cut back on personal enjoyment during financially stressed times, and that we are the tech-dependent generation that believes that our smartphone is our best friend.

All true, but when I look at my peers, I also see a group that feels overwhelmed by the number of different ways it can invest its money. I see a group that lacks discipline when it comes to spending money, and consequently lives paycheck to paycheck.

We have been called the Boomerang Generation, that helicopter parents are hindering us from growing up, and that we are reluctant to take on responsibility. I respectfully disagree with this point of view. Entering the professional world during the height of the great recession has simply put a dent in our confidence of the economic structure.

The banking system needs to provide a starter toolkit for financial success, the path to Independence 101, if you will. Banks should leverage our means of communication: my smartphone is still right next to me. I understand that investing in Millennials is not a short-term venture. But if we emerge as the most powerful consumer demographic in history, I am certain that you can build a business case with a positive ROI. It is a win-win situation.

We do not need to have our hands held; we are in need of a financial role model, someone to shed light upon this state of uncertainty.

A financial superhero might not exist. But we still have dreams. Now what?

Topics: Payments Strategy

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