Does Gen Y Have It Tougher?

My generation is embarrassingly well known for how much we complain.

We’re spoiled and we whinge too much, about work, being bored, having no money and all our other first world problems.

If I had a dollar for every time my parents told me how far they had to walk to get to school, the backbreaking jobs they worked for a pittance or how they saved to buy a house at 24, well I’d be able buy a substantial round at the pub.

I don’t blame older generations for hating on us, we were bred on a diet of constant positive reinforcement, and for most of us the hardest thing we had to deal with was Geri leaving the Spice Girls.


However, it may turn out that we’re not as soft as we might think. We may actually have it tougher than our generational forebears.

A recent report by the Foundation For Young Australians predicts the future of Gen Y is “unstable employment, lower pay and growing debt.” YAY!

Sure we have a lot of advantages over our parents – mobile phones, wifi, Game Of Thrones – but we also face a whole different set of hurdles.

These days we earn about 6.8 per cent more than our folks did at our age, but after inflation the cost of living has gone up at the same rate. Plus,  housing prices are 6.5 times the average income, as opposed to 3.2 times in the 80’s.


Okay, so housing prices have gone up, but at least there’s a bigger job market with the introduction of the internet and wider vocational options, right?

These days young Australians will have on average 13 different jobs of the course of their working lives, but the catch is the jobs are harder to find.

There are 4.2 million of us Y’s in Australia, making up 20 per cent of the workforce, a figure which will rise to 36 per cent by 2020.

Currently, almost a third of young Australians qualify as either unemployed or under-employed. This may or may not be a factor in the rapid rise of Netflix.

However given our generation is the most entrepreneurial of the lot, in years to come there will be an increase in small businesses and the self-employed, therefore widening the traditional job market to accommodate our growing numbers.


With all these obstacles in the way of making a decent living and affording to buy somewhere to live, it’s capped off with the fact that with life expectancy at 84 for females (sorry guys, you’re lower), we will live longer than any other generation before us thanks to better health awareness and improved medical treatment.

But things may not be all bad for the future. The GFC hit Australia the hardest in places you don’t find many Gen Y’s: property and investment markets.

So while it took other generations a while to recover financially, we were able to keep on living our broke lives.

Main image:Chris Devers