Millennials and Long-Term Debt: How a Generation Ended Up in a Rut

Millennials getting slime dumped on them on a gameshow

Millennials are far removed from the carefree ’90s. | Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

Tattoos, selfies, and soul-crushing levels of long-term debt: These are America’s millennials, ladies and gentlemen. Born between the early 1980s and the year 2000, millennials were raised during a largely fruitful time in American history. But they were too young to take advantage of cheap higher education and credit like their parents did. And then the Great Recession hit.

So an entire generation has had its wheels stuck in the mud. It’s a future different from what many pictured growing up during the ’90s and early 2000s, in which the economy was humming and the world was more or less on stable footing.

Selling Beanie Babies or Pogs on eBay isn’t going to get the millennials out of the hole. So it begs to be asked: How exactly did an entire generation end up in such a gigantic rut? An infographic, put together by Chicago-based psychiatric center Yellowbrick, gives a pretty good overview of not only where the debt came from, but its overall impact on daily life.

“Credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car payments — today’s millennials have more debt than ever, and studies show that there can be a long-term health effect on the stress this causes,” Yellowbrick’s study says. “Two-thirds of millennials aged 23 to 35 have at least one source of long-term debt, while one-third have more than one source.”

So how did it come to this?