The Economy’s Psychological Impact on Millennials

December 10, 2019

William Coffey, LCSW, is a Staff Therapist at our Center City and Voorhees, NJ offices. 

At the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. economy took off like a rocket. After the Greatest Generation defeated Nazi Germany, they came home, found new jobs, bought homes, and gave birth to the largest generation of children the U.S. had ever seen, the Baby Boomers. From 1946 to 1964, Seventy-six million children were born in the U.S. and a phenomenon began where the Baby Boomer generation did better than their parents did economically. College admissions were at their highest as it became clear that a degree would open a few more doors than a high school diploma. And so it began, each succeeding generation outperformed the previous one until now. The Millennials might become the first generation that will do worse than their parents did economically, and this has an economic effect, but perhaps worse, a psychological effect on this generation.

Millennials are the generation who were born between 1981 and 1996 or individuals who are between the ages of 22-38. They grew up in a world dominated by the terrorism of 9/11, but also in a world where college tuition was soaring to unprecedented levels. The cost of a college education has risen more than 100 percent since 2001, and this generation has over one trillion dollars in college debt. Also, they were hitting the job market during the Great Recession (2007-2009) when job prospects were disappearing. Failure to Launch was a popular romantic comedy in 2006, but what Millennials are dealing with is no laughing matter.

According to a survey conducted in 2018 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Millennials have the overall highest rate of anxiety compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Millennials have lower employment rates, higher student loan debt, and are less likely to own a home than previous generations. All of these factors contribute to a higher incidence of anxiety and depression. The survey indicated that women were more anxious than men, and people of color scored 11 points higher on the anxiety scale on average when compared to Caucasians.

The study revealed that there is the need for mental health treatment, which is viewed more favorably by Millennials than previous generations. In fact, we are seeing Millennials seek out therapy to assist them in finding appropriate ways to deal with stress and depression. Constant worry about paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck takes its toll on anyone. This burden can feel like it’s getting increasingly heavy without a good social support network and a good therapist. The reality may not necessarily change but managing it can become easier. If not at Council for Relationships, then find a good therapist somewhere. They can guide you through the difficult journey of managing what life throws at us.


Council for Relationships is committed to providing quality counseling services. Our Staff Therapists specialize in over 45 areas of expertise, including anxiety and depression. Find out more information by visiting our Clinical Services page.