Finance

Net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996: study

The net worth of the average 18- to 35-year-old has plummeted 34 percent since 1996, according to new study from accounting group Deloitte.

Despite stereotypes that millennials overspend on entertainment and dining out, the Deloitte study found that the generation is paying more for education, food, transportation and other basic needs, while their incomes have stayed steady.

The group's average net worth is now below $8,000, putting today's millennials in a worse financial position than previous generations.

Deloitte researchers told The Washington Post that the study's findings "debunk many conventional wisdoms about the new-age consumer." 

"The narrative out there is that millennials are ruining everything, from breakfast cereal to weddings, but what matters to consumers today isn't much different than it was 50 years ago," chief retail officer Kasey Lobaugh told the Post. "Generally speaking, there have not been dramatic changes in how consumers spend their money."

According to the Post, education costs have risen 65 percent in the past decade, more than any other category. 

But the study found that discretionary spending - like eating out and alcohol - makes up about 11 percent of total income, about the same as a decade ago.

The study also found that "only 20 percent of consumers were meaningfully better off in 2017 than they were in 2007, with precious little income left to spend on discretionary retail," according to the paper.

The study found that many Americans age 18-35 often put off making larger purchases such as homes or automobiles because of immense financial pressure and a lack of available income. A study in 2017 revealed that about one-third of this age group still lives with their parents, another sign of potential financial woes among younger Americans, and are putting off marriage until they are older.

And though retail spending has grown about 13 percent since the early 2000s, according to the Post, the Deloitte researchers say that figure is largely due to the growing U.S. population, not increased individual spending.

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