Politicians throw around terms without context like confetti at a wedding. Yes, this maybe the first generation of young people in American history to "financially underperform" their parents, but let's look at some of the reasons why.
1. America is not even 250 years old, when you start from zero, growth can be exponential.
2. There are now +/- 325 million people in America. Moreover (and thank god) more of them ie women and minorities, are becoming competitive in the work force i.e. there is greater competition.
3. After the Second World War, America was one of a few countries in the world left standing that had an economy that wasn't bankrupt i.e. there was little or no global competition for at least 15 years.
4. The cost of non-discretionary items e.g. healthcare and education have skyrocketed, and have far outpaced the growth in average incomes.
5. Regulation has made it far more complicated for a young person to "go west and prosper". Whether seen as good or bad, it is a fact.
6. The efficient markets theory actually works.
7. Young people today wish to work to live, as opposed to living to work, and I for one do not blame them.
8. My generation (and those that proceeded it) are leaving young people with a total mess. Yes that affords opportunity, but for how many?
9. Young people today actually have the Audacity to Care
However, we should not count them out yet. Over the next 50 years, the greatest accumulation of wealth on earth will be amassed by people who innovate solutions for the social and environmental problems we are facing. Many of those solutions will be created by today's Impact focused entrepreneurs, numerous of whom are under 25, which will make them the first generation to reverse the social and environmental problems we have created. That is worth infinitely more than making more money than we did.
I could go on, but I think the above is enough to stop and think before we simply throw around terms without any context.