The millennial generation — comprised of those born in the early 1980s and afterward — represents the future of our country and economy.
That might be bad news, given the results of a recent study by the Educational Testing Service
, which uses data from Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies to assess the intellectual skills of millennials around the world. The study measures three areas: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE).
"Across all three scales, the scores for U.S. millennials are disappointing," the report states. "In literacy, millennials in 15 of the other 21 countries scored higher than those in the U.S. Only millennials in Spain and Italy had lower average literacy scores than their peers in the U.S.
"In numeracy, U.S. millennials ranked last. In PS-TRE, where one might expect a competitive advantage for this cohort, U.S. millennials did not score higher than those in any of the participating countries," the report notes.
"The comparatively low skill level of U.S. millennials is likely to test our international competitiveness over the coming decades. If our future rests in part on the skills of this cohort — as these individuals represent the workforce, parents, educators and our political bedrock — then that future looks bleak."
With the economy's strength increasingly dependent on high-skilled workers, these are troubling omens.
Meanwhile, financial luminaries offered plenty of pessimism in discussing the economy at the Milken Institute Global Conference this week.
Here's what a few of them had to say, as published by Fortune's Chris Matthews
- Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, now president of private equity titan Warburg Pincus, offered this view on where the economy is headed in coming years: "We live in a scary, dark, messy and uncertain world. That is the normal state of mankind."
- Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, reiterated his concern that economies still aren't strong enough to thrive in the absence of support from central banks. "While the Fed is easing its foot off the accelerator a little, [other central banks] are pressing their foot even harder. So collectively, we're still in the central bank trade," he said. As a result, it's likely "we're going to have a major adjustment" in the next two years, El-Erian noted.
- Real estate legend Sam Zell addressed the issue of slowing population growth in many developed nations. "This is the worst demographic situation we've had in 500 years," he said.
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