More Millennial Households Living In Poverty Than Any Other Generation

Text Millenials appearing behind ripped brown paper.

If Millennials are the future of America, the outlook is bleak. More Millennial households are living in poverty than households headed by any other generation. And it gets worse; because of debt, Millennials are more likely to rent and live with someone else. All of this will be a drag on the U.S. economy in the coming years.

Millennials–those born in the early 1980s and early 2000s–are the largest living generation, with a population of 79.8 million. Unfortunately, there is no strength in numbers; Millennials trail baby boomers and Generation Xers when it comes to running a household. In fact, owning a home could be a pipe dream for many Millennials.

Forty percent of Millennials live with their parents or a family member. Before the Great Recession, that number stood at 33%. In 1940, was at a record 40.9%. There’s a good chance Millennials will break that number in 2017 or 2018.

Today, Millennials head only 28-million households, which is significantly fewer than the amount headed by baby boomers or Generation Xers. Sadly, there are less dubious honors that Millennials can lay claim to when it comes to Millennial-run households.


Case in point: Millennials represent the largest number of households living in poverty. In 2016, an estimated 5.3 million of the 17-million U.S. households (31%) living in poverty were headed by a Millennial. By comparison, 4.2 million are headed by a Generation Xer and five million headed by a baby boomer.

Millennials also dominate when it comes to being renters. In 2016, Millennials headed 18.4 million, or 40% of the nearly 46-million households that rent their home. This compares with only 12.9-million Generation X and 10.4-million baby boomer households that rent. Of those households headed by a member of the “silent” or “greatest” generation, only 4.1 million were renters.

As expected, Millennials are also less likely to own their own home than prior generations of young adults when they were the same age. In 1982, 41% of households headed by those younger than 35 owned their homes. In 1999, 40% of households in this age bracket owned their homes. By 2016, that number had dropped to 35%.

Millennials are also tops when it comes to the number of households headed by single mothers. In 2016, 8.6-million households were headed by a single mother who lived with a child younger than 18. Of those, four million, or 46%, were Millennials. This is slightly more than the 3.9-million Generation Xers who are single moms.

The incident of single parenthood has soared since 1980, when just 19% of children lived with a single parent. By 2014, that number had increased to 34%.

In addition to being the biggest renters, living in poverty, and having households run by single parents, Millennials are also more racially and ethnically diverse and headed by minorities, who tend to have higher poverty rates. Millennial households also tend to be unmarried, which is also associated with higher poverty.


5 facts about Millennial households,” Pew Research Center, September 6, 2017.


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