There are 2 types of American millennials, says an expert who studies the generation - and the difference between them is not based on their age

millennials

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Are you a Mega-llennial or Me-llennial?

  • There are two types of millennials, says a generational expert: "me-llennials" and "mega-llennials."
  • The two parts of the generation are defined, respectively, by two different life paths. One group is moving forward professionally and financially, while the other feels their life has stagnated.
  • Me-llennials feel behind in their career and finances as they struggle with student-loan debt and the fallout of the recession.
  • Mega-llennials are more ahead, and don't identify with the negative stereotypes associated with their generation.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Do you feel like a typical millennial who's overwhelmed by financial struggles? Or conversely, do you feel like you don't fit the stereotypical millennial mold at all?

Either way, you're not alone.

Jason Dorsey, a consultant, researcher of millennials, and president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, told Business Insider that there are two types of American millennials. This generational split, he said, has nothing to do with age (millennials will turn ages 24 to 39 in 2020). Rather, it's associated with life paths and stages.

He coined two terms to describe each of these cohorts: "me-llennials" are floundering financially and might feel lost in life, whereas "mega-llennials" are ahead of the game.

"While mega-llennials and me-llennials come from the same schools and towns, as they get older they see themselves further apart from one another as one group moves forward with their career and aspirations, while the other group feels like they're not making the progress they imagined they would at this point in their life," he said.

Me-llennials feel behind financially and professionally

"Me-llennials are still struggling to find their place in their career, finances, and life direction," Dorsey said. He likened them to late bloomers.

The culprit in how long it's taking them to get on their feet is the affordability crisis many millennials are facing, which was triggered by the ongoing fallout of the recession, rising living costs, and increasing student debt.

Many millennials entered a tough job market post-recession: They had difficulty finding jobs and those who did experienced stagnant wages. Initial income loss early on in a career ultimately laid the foundation for a slow path to wealth building.

millennial busy

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Many Me-llennials feel behind or lost in life.

While millennials overall have benefited from a 67% rise in wages since 1970, according to Student Loan Hero, that increase isn't enough to keep up with inflating living costs. Multiple studies show that millennials have less purchasing power than previous generations did at the same age.

As evidence of millenials' dire financial situation, look no further than skyrocketing college tuition, which has more than doubled since the 1980s. The average student-loan debt per graduating student in 2018 who took out loans neared $30,000. Such debt makes it hard to save money for things like retirement and housing, the cost of which has also climbed.

It's a combination of factors that have left many millennials financially behind. Dorsey noted that many of the millennials he and his team interviewed said they haven't yet found a path or feel they're not in control of their finances and life direction.

"They really feel like they are spinning their wheels, yet getting older," he said. Dorsey anticipates they'll be "just fine," but that it's just taking them longer to feel like they're progressing in their jobs, career, and personal finances.

Because mega-llennials are more ahead, they don't identify as millennials

Then there's the group of millennials who don't feel they quite fit this story. Dorsey dubbed this group with the "mega" prefix for the "outsized advantage" they have over me-llennials.

"It's almost like they got a head start," he said of mega-llennials. "They've been working and doing normal work-related stuff, but often are not getting attention for it."

A recent survey by Insider and Morning Consult found that millennials overall think they're doing better than their peers, indicating that the situation on the ground for some may be better than we believe.

According to the survey, 46% of millennials think their finances are somewhat or much better off than others in their generation; meanwhile, only 36% think they are somewhat or much worse off.

And only 35% of millennials think they have more debt than their peers, while 48% think they have less debt.

millennial

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Mega-llennials are more ahead financially and professionally.

When asked how they would rate their financial health, only 37% said not very good or not good at all. This all goes to show that though things may be rough for the generation, the reality may not be quite as bad as the story they're told.

Research has also found that, despite their reputation for being difficult, entitled, and spoiled, millennials are actually optimistic and resilient hard workers, Business Insider's Libby Kane previously reported. Perhaps that's why this part of the generation doesn't identify with the term "millennial." According to Dorsey, "they feel they [don't] match the negative stereotypes, such as the often-touted sense of entitlement."

Dorsey said the distance mega-llennials feel from these stereotypes is the most talked-about part of his sub-generations concept simply because so many millennials relate to it. "They feel someone has finally recognized them and that they don't fit the typical millennial meme," he said.

Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence

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