Education expenses have climbed 65 percent in the past decade. Food costs have jumped 26 percent, health care is up 21 percent, housing jumped 16 percent and transportation rose 11 percent. And there are now expenses that most consumers didn’t have to account for 20 years ago, including smartphones and data plans.
Today’s 20- and 30-somethings spend about 17 percent of their incomes on education, health care and rent, compared with 12 percent a decade ago, the study found. Discretionary spending, which includes dining out, alcohol and furniture, has remained largely flat, at about 11 percent of total income.
“Only 20 percent of consumers were meaningfully better off in 2017 than they were in 2007, with precious little income left to spend on discretionary retail,” the study found.
The findings, researchers say, “debunk many conventional wisdoms about the new-age consumer.” Millennials, they contend, are putting off home-buying and marriage not because they want to, but because rising costs are making it difficult for them to afford down payments and weddings.