Wednesday 8 May 2024

Gen Z Watching Their Debt Climb Amid Soaring Rent, Food Prices

 Generation Z’s efforts to be financially independent are slowed by their mounting personal debt, a problem that appears only to be getting worse for the youngest adults.

Gen Z young adults in their early to mid-20s, most of whom have just entered the workforce or are trying to do so, are plagued by stubbornly low wages and record inflation over the past few years, pushing them into debt, The Wall Street Journal reported. Those born between 1997 and 2012 are generally considered to be part of Generation Z.

Many turn to credit cards just to cover the basics like food and rent.

For young adults 22 to 24, the average credit card balance was $2,834 in the last quarter of 2023, according to credit-reporting agency TransUnion. Back in 2013, the average balance for this group was only $2,248, adjusted for inflation.

Rent is likely the main driver of young people’s climbing debt. It is now cheaper to rent than to buy property.

Thanks to rising housing prices and mortgage rates, renting a two-bedroom residence is cheaper than buying that property for about 89% of Americans, according to a November analysis by The Economist.

In March, the median rent in the U.S. was $1,987, up nearly 22% compared to the past four years, according to Rent, an online rental marketplace that targets young adults.

Meanwhile, wages have not increased nearly that much.

Last year, the median annual wage for recent college graduates was $60,000, not much higher than $58,858 in 2020, according to Federal Reserve of New York data.

Meanwhile, after the pandemic, credit card companies made it easier for people to get credit cards. This led to more Gen Z young adults opening accounts — they were more likely to have at least one credit card compared with millennials a decade ago, according to data from TransUnion.


During the pandemic, many people’s credit scores, including Gen Z’s, rose as stimulus checks hit bank accounts and many places to spend money remained temporarily shuttered. However, rising interest rates have driven down both Gen Z’s and millennials’ credit scores since the pandemic.

Student debt is another huge debt driver among today’s young adults. Many leftist loan holders demand taxpayers foot the bill for their loan forgiveness. At the same time, critics blame former students for taking on an unreasonable amount of debt at 18, even though, in many cases, their parents assured them that it was a good investment and did not predict the soaring inflation of the last few years.

This confluence of financial stressors is causing young people to delay marriage, having children, and homeownership until they can support themselves, not to mention dependents.

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