Gen Z pays more for housing and has more debt than millennials did 10 years ago. That will likely impact the presidential race.

  • Gen Z pays more in housing costs than millennials did a decade ago, according to WaPo.

  • In an economy battered by inflation, higher costs have created economic uncertainty for Gen Z.

  • In 2020, Biden easily won young voters. But he now faces a tougher challenge to win them over.

During the Great Recession and much of the 2010s, millennials bore the brunt of one of the biggest economic upheavals in generations.

A tough job market — where layoffs and high unemployment sidelined many budding careers — defined the earliest stages of adulthood for many millennials.

More than a decade after the Great Recession and over four years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z is now enduring its own economic challenges.

Gen Z is spending more on housing and car insurance than their millennial counterparts did at the same age, and the younger generation is also holding more debt than millennials did, according to The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported that Gen Z workers are more likely to have attended college and earn higher pay than millennials, but debt is weighing them down: About 1 in 7 Gen Zers have hit their credit card limits.

"Gen Z consumers have seen their finances significantly impacted by the pandemic and its aftermath, even more so than the challenges faced by millennials as a result of the global financial crisis," TransUnion US research head Michele Raneri told the Post. "Both of these cohorts have emerged from a difficult financial situation, but Gen Z is having a harder time affording this new cost of living."

These findings are significant as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump both fight for Gen Z votes ahead of the November election.

Spending more and more

Gen Z is spending 31% more on housing costs compared to what millennials paid 10 years ago, a figure which also factors in inflation, according to the Post.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, car insurance costs increased more than twofold for Americans aged 16 to 24 between 2012 and 2022, and health insurance costs spiked 46% for this group during the same time span.

Debt accounted for 16% of Gen Z income at the end of 2023, whereas debt among millennials only accounted for 12% 10 years ago, the Post reported.

Gen Z has seen an economic recovery since the throes of the pandemic, buoyed by a 4% unemployment rate. But with higher costs taking out a large chunk of their salaries, many Gen Z workers feel like they're falling behind.

Biden Trump
President Joe Biden, left, and former President Donald Trump.AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File; AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

Biden v. Trump redux

In 2020, young voters overwhelmingly supported Biden. That year, the president carried voters aged 18 to 29 by 24 points (59% to 35%) over Trump, according to Pew Research.

During that cycle, the leading issues among young voters included the economy, student-loan forgiveness, reproductive rights, climate change, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and racial inequality.

This year, Gen Z has once again prioritized the economy as a defining issue of the election. And Biden — already struggling with younger voters over the conflict in Gaza — will have to craft a persuasive defense of his policies to ensure their support.

In the latest New York Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena College swing-state poll conducted in late April and early May, 18% of registered voters aged 18 to 29 listed the economy as their top issue.

This age group was the most pessimistic of any generation regarding the economy: 59% rated it as "poor," while 32% rated it as "only fair." About 7% of registered voters said the economy was "good."

Only 1% of registered voters aged 18 to 29 rated the economy as "excellent."

Trump is campaigning in cities like New York and Philadelphia to make inroads with younger and more infrequent voters to cut into the Democratic margins that are key for Biden.

The struggles of Gen Z — whether it's high rents or elevated insurance costs — are poised to be a defining issue for the Biden and Trump campaigns during this critical summer stretch. And whoever finds a way to address Gen Z concerns and craft potential solutions effectively will likely emerge as the presidential victor in November.

Read the original article on Business Insider