Millennials’ income growth shrinks while seniors take home more: report

The 65-and-up snowbird set saw their incomes grow more than Millennials in their prime earning years. AP Photo/Dave Martin file

A major new analysis shows Canadian Millennials have been left on the sidelines of income growth compared to the rest of the population — even being outpaced in pay gains by seniors — but aren’t faring as poorly as their peers in many other wealthy countries.

British newspaper The Guardian crunched the numbers on income in eight countries over the last 30 years and found that Generation Y is facing a wave of economic factors leaving them “betrayed” and cut off from their share of the wealth generated in the West.

In one startling slice of the statistical data, the news outlet found that those aged 25 to 29 saw lower growth in disposable income compared to the national average than those aged 65 to 74 — with the retired snowbird set seeing gains between 5 and 16 per cent, compared to a loss of 4 per cent for the young adults.

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Though it may be cold comfort, by that measure of intergenerational contraction Canada didn’t do too badly — coming in third behind the U.K. (down 2 per cent versus up 62 to 66 per cent for seniors) and Australia, where Millennials actually bested their elders with comparative income growth of 27 per cent.

In inflation-adjusted dollar figures, that 25-to-29 Canadian age bracket pulled in $3,700 more in 2010 than they would have in 1987, but that trails behind the advances of $5,500 and $7,000 seen by those aged 65 to 69 and 70 to 74, respectively.

Looking at it in relative terms, that young cohort saw their income lag national average growth by about 5 per cent — putting them in the loss category along with Germany, Italy and the U.S.

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Shift to Canadians in their early 20s and it’s even worse — with average disposable income a whopping 20 per cent off national averages. Here again they’re not alone, joined by those three countries again as well as France.

It’s likely the first time in more than a century young people have seen their pay fall so far, save for times of war and natural disaster, the paper warns.

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Want to dive into the data? The Guardian has created a tool letting you see how the intergenerational and cross-country income spread stacks up.

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The paper’s investigative series is based on reams of international income figures between roughly 1980 and 2010 in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, the U.K., Australia, Spain and Italy drawn from a boutique economic centre.

They also singled out singles — discovering the growing number of Millennials living by themselves also pulled home less money than 30 years prior, which one expert attributed to more women in the workforce and delayed marriage and parenthood, albeit with a catch.

“The motivation for people to live alone is so strong that people are willing to continue doing it even if it is financially difficult,” sociologist Eric Klinenberg told the Guardian.