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Millennials Have It Way Better In Canada Than In The U.S.

"Millennial females narrowed the male-female gap faster than any other cohort before them."

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The job market sucks, your student debt is grim, and Baby Boomers won't retire to help you move up. Such are the complaints of many Canadian millennials. But a report from TD Economics suggests they have it better off than their American counterparts.

TD Economics

Diana Petramala, an economist for TD Economics who co-wrote the report, told BuzzFeed Canada it's often assumed this generation has it worse than their parents.

"In the U.S. it's pretty clear cut they have had it a bit harder," she said. "But when we dig into the numbers [in Canada] it's not exactly what you see."

These five charts show that Canadian millennials aged 25 to 34 have it better than American millennials — and in some cases better than their parents did at the same age.

"Every time we hear about millennials people think about youth unemployment," Petramala said. But the unemployment rate for Canadians aged 25 to 34 is 6.7% — nearly four points lower than what their parents experienced in the early 1980s.

TD Economics

In contrast, the unemployment rate in the U.S. for those aged 25 to 34 averaged 8.6% between 2010 and 2013.

"I can see that my friends and the people I graduated [university] with are in good paying jobs," said Petramala, who is 32.

One theme identified by Petramala and her co-author is that millennial women are making big strides in employment and income.

"More educated than their male counterparts, millennial females narrowed the male-female gap faster than any other cohort before them," they wrote.

This chart of personal income shows Canadian women have seen their personal income grow steadily over the past 20 years. More women are entering and staying in the workforce, and they are earning more. (Though still less than men.)

As shown below, women are driving growth in household income for Canadian millennials versus their American counterparts. The report said the rise in income coincided with the "expansion of parental leave in Canada from 10 weeks to 35 weeks" in 2000.

TD Economics

With expanded leave, more Canadian women felt they could work and have a family, according to Petramala.

"You can take that pause and then come back to your job," she said. "It also might mean that women are more wiling to take higher-income jobs because they can do both. They can career plan and still have their family."

Home ownership is the primary driver of wealth creation for Canadian millennials. They have a higher rate of home ownership than Americans aged 25 to 35, and were not hurt by the economic crisis of 2008/09 that severely affected U.S. real estate prices.

TD Economics

Petramala says low interest rates and the availability of condos helped Canadian millennials achieve homeownership earlier than their parents.

"Back in the 1970s or 80s our parents didn't have the option of condos as an affordable option," she said.

Parents are also often playing a role in helping their millennial kids purchase homes.

"Kids used to have to wait to get their inheritance," Petramala said. "Now parents might be more willing to help them out."

Millennials may also live at home longer in order to save up to buy a house or condo, she said.

The final trend of note is debt. This chart shows that American millennials pursue advanced degrees more than their Canadian counterparts. This, combined with higher of tuition in the U.S., often leaves Americans with more student debt.

TD Economics

"The Federal Reserve of New York reported that the average student loan balance topped US$27,000 in 2013," the report said, "whereas the average student loan balance in Canada was a lesser C$16,000 as of 2012."

However, Canadian millennials are carrying more debt overall due to their mortgages. This leaves them "vulnerable in the event of a home price correction," according to the report.

Petramala said the U.S. economy has more room to grow at the moment, which means American millennials could be poised to catch up.

"The tides might turn," she said. "The U.S. economy has more pent up demand, and millennials there are a little more educated. ... The job market is performing much stronger right now in the U.S."

Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at

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