(OPINION) Millennials want half a million dollars annually to be happy. But that’s a lot higher than what both older and younger generations want, per a recent survey.

In mid-November, financial services company Empower released the results of a survey conducted by The Harris Poll in August that asked 2,034 Americans aged 18 and over if they think there is a price to happiness.

The average respondent said they think they need a $284,167 annual salary to be happy, and for millennials, that amount was much higher at $525,000.


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Meanwhile, Gen Z said it would take a $128,000 salary for them to be happy, Gen X said they would be happy with $130,000, and boomers estimated the amount at $124,000.

While each person might have a different idea of the true price of happiness, there’s no argument that it’s a difficult time for many Americans — and millennials in particular — in the current economy.

Starting off with inflation: the US has made strides in its pandemic recovery, and the Federal Reserve is confident the country is moving in the right direction toward meeting the central bank’s 2% inflation target.

Most recently, the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, increased 3.2% year-over-year in October, a decrease from the 3.7% reading a month prior. But inflation cooling off isn’t enough for consumers to feel relief in their wallets.

As Business Insider recently reported, millennials’ financial well-being has plummeted, according to Morning Consult’s latest iteration of its well-being index. While baby boomers’ well-being score rose to 4.04 from August 2022 to August 2023, millennials’ score declined to .94, the biggest decline across all age groups.

The index is based on a scale from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 0 to 100. A one-point jump is associated with things like credit scores going up, which happened four-fold for boomers.

Big debt loads are a contributor to millennials’ financial well-being right now. Federal student-loan payments resumed in October after an over three-year pause, and millennials hold the most student debt out of every generation, with the average amount for a millennial totaling $42,637 — above the $35,000 average for all borrowers.

Additionally, a recent survey from the New York Federal Reserve found that millennials are the only generation with credit card delinquencies exceeding pre-pandemic levels, with their transition rate into delinquency 0.4 percentage points higher than in the third quarter of 2019.