Young Australians, many of whom were only twinkles in their parents' eyes when the country last experienced a recession, are pessimistic about their prospects.
Of those born roughly between 1982 and 2002, commonly referred to as millennials, less than a third expect the economy will improve this year, according to interviews with 300 Australians that formed part of a global Deloitte survey. Worldwide, 45 percent of millennials expect things to get better in the next 12 months.
But the division between young Australians and their overseas peers is starker when it comes to their folks. Just 8 percent of millennials Down Under expect to be better off financially than mum and dad, compared with a global figure of 26 percent; even worse, only 4 percent of Aussies reckon they'll be happier than their parents, versus 23 percent internationally.
``For millennials, it seems Australia no longer looks like the lucky country,” said David Hill, Deloitte Australia’s chief operating officer. ``I suspect booming house prices in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne are partly to blame for this pessimism, with many young Australians believing the dream of owning their own home is increasingly out of reach.''
Yet it's not like conditions are terrible now: they weren't trying to repay a mortgage in 1990 when the Reserve Bank of Australia's cash rate was 17.5 percent, or run a business in 1991 during the country's last official recession; and they weren't looking for work the next year when unemployment hit 11.1 percent. Indeed, with the cash rate at 1.5 percent, the economy forecast to expand 3 percent this year and the jobless rate currently 5.7 percent, conditions are pretty good. Instability, though, seems to define this group.
The survey showed 42 percent of Aussie millennials expect to leave their job within 2 years; 23 percent within two to five years; and 24 percent to hold their position for more than five years. But about three quarters of the age cohort would prefer full-time employment and just 18 percent to freelance. Globally, the numbers were 65 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
The data also suggest it will be tough for lawmakers to connect with young people, who appear disillusioned about the political future: just 22 percent expect Australia's social and political situation to improve in the next 12 months, compared with 36 percent globally. To get their attention -- and presumably their vote -- two thirds of Aussie millennials want politicians to just use plain, straight-talking language.
“Our survey shows business and political leaders need to find a way to bring millennials with them on key initiatives,” Hill said. “They are more comfortable with straight-talking language, but will reject leaders who take divisive positions.”
On one hand that may suggest they're less receptive to the populist message that appears to be on the march in the western world; on the other hand, populists tend to be straight talkers who offer simple policy prescriptions and deliver them with passion.
While the climate and resource scarcity were among top concerns of global millennials four years ago, they've been replaced by crime, corruption and war. As for their Aussie peers, the top worry was terrorism at 30 percent; just over a quarter rated crime and personal safety second, followed by climate change issues, income inequality and healthcare.
Australian millennials are significantly more pessimistic about their financial and emotional well-being than their global counterparts,'' Deloitte said. ``Despite their propensity for moving around, a more permanent work environment is also important for Australia millennials.''