The pay gap between young and older workers has increased by more than half over the last 20 years, leaving millennials skipping meals and putting off having children in order to get by.
Despite being the most qualified generation ever, under 30s now earn £2.81 an hour less than their colleagues aged 30 and above, according to a new report by the TUC.
In 1998, the difference was only the equivalent of £1.51 an hour in today’s money.
The TUC claims the figures mean that the generational pay gap has increased by £2,744 over two decades, a real terms shift from £3,140 in 1998 to £5,884 in 2017 for someone working a 40 hour week.
The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said the UK is creating “a lost generation” of younger workers. “Too many young people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little opportunity to get on in life,” she explained.
The report found that the number of 21 to 30-year-olds working in low-paid industries like private social care and hotels and restaurants has shot up by 104% and 80% respectively since 1998.
Meanwhile, more than a third (36.1%) of under-30s are currently working in caring, sales and other ‘elementary’ occupations, compared to just 25.8% of over-30s.
But millennials are struggling to improve their prospects - four in ten young people say they have had few or no training opportunities in the last year.
As a result, “huge numbers of hardworking young people are struggling to meet basic living costs,” O’Grady said, with 23% of 1,500 young workers polled for the report admitting this had been the case for them over the last 12 months.
Within the same group, one in five said they had been forced to skip a main meal in the last year to make ends meet, while 22% had put off starting a family and 44% had put off buying a house or moving home because of money worries.
In an attempt to combat the issue, the TUC has launched a new app – WorkSmart – to help young workers learn about their rights, progress in their careers and build relationships with their colleagues.