Gen Z, millennials have a much harder time ‘adulting’ than their parents did, CNBC/Generation Lab survey finds


Young woman talking to parents.

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Gen Z and millennial adults are having a hard time achieving the same milestones their parents did when they first ventured out into the workforce.

For instance, 55% of young adult respondents find it is “much harder” to purchase a home, 44% said it is harder to find a job and 55% said it is harder to get promoted, according to a Youth & Money in the USA poll by CNBC and Generation Lab.

The survey polled 1,039 people between ages 18 and 34 across the U.S. from Oct. 25 to Oct. 30.

“This is purely a snapshot of what young people perceive their lives to be like compared to their parents,” said Cyrus Beschloss, founder of Generation Lab, an organization that built the largest respondent database of young people in America.

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On the plus side, the poll found that 40% of Gen Zers and millennials say it’s easier for them to find economic opportunities outside of traditional employment.

The nature of work was changing even before the Covid-19 pandemic, said certified financial planner Blair duQuesnay, lead advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management in New Orleans.

“The baby-boom generation went to work for a corporation and, for a lot [of] cases, stayed in one job for their entire career and retired with a pension — that doesn’t exist anymore,” said duQuesnay, who is also a CNBC Financial Advisor Council member.

While those opportunities may not lead to the type of stability that will allow young adults to buy a house, certain “glimmers of optimism” stand out, “in spite of pessimism about the nation and the world,” added Beschloss.

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Additionally, the birth and rise of cryptocurrency pose as an “opt-out of traditional financial systems,” added Boneparth, who is also a CNBC FA Council member.

It will take time for younger investors to see compounded returns in the stock market, especially as those who joined in 2021 may have quickly saw those gains erased by a bear market in 2022, added duQuesnay.

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