I’m a millennial, which means that I have to put up with a lot of societal abuse for the mere fact that I was born in the eighties. Apparently, my generation is to blame for everything from vacation-shaming our coworkers to not knowing how to cook. (But “go us” for fighting back a bit!) Now there’s a new study to bum us out: apparently, we’re the most useless population in the entire world. ¯_(ツ)_/¯*
The study, put out by nonprofit Educational Testing Service (ETS), looked at millennials’ skillz — specifically, it compared their abilities in literacy, numeracy (the ability to apply math to everyday situations), and “problem-solving in technology-rich environments” to those of their international peers. And, surprise, surprise, we didn’t stack up well against the rest of the world.
These findings hold true when looking at millennials overall, our best performing and most educated, those who are native born, and those from the highest socioeconomic background. Equally troubling is that these findings represent a decrease in literacy and numeracy skills for U.S. adults when compared with results from previous adult surveys.
Translation (because I’m doing my darnedest to show off my own ability to function and contribute here): millennials from all educational and socioeconomic backgrounds are useless. We’re even useless when compared with older generations of American adults.
A few facts from the report to show just how bad millennials fare compared to the rest of the world:
- We scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries in literacy.
- We ranked last, along with Italy and Spain, in numeracy.
- We also ranked last in PS-TRE (use your skills to figure out what that means, please), along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland
Here’s another fun fact: even the top-performing (90th percentile or greater) U.S. millennials didn’t do all that great compared to the rest of the world — they still managed to score lower than the top performers in 15 of the 22 participating countries, only scoring higher than their peers in Spain. As for the bottom-of-the-barrel millennials (10th percentile or lower), they ranked last, along with Italy and England/Northern Ireland, scoring lower than millennials in 19 participating countries. If you’re under 34 and can’t track this, here’s what it means: We suk.
And just to add to the troubling data, the gap between those top performers and bottom performers — 139 points — was higher than the gap in 14 of the participating countries, and pretty darn close to the gap in the remaining countries. Which means that we’ve got a pretty big inequality problem on our hands, as well.
The really funny thing is that practice questions for the test are available online…and they’re actually pretty ridiculously easy. As in, “read this temperature gauge” easy. As BroBible’s Cass Anderson writes, “What gives?”
*This is a study. It found what it found, and as American millennials we can only shrug and laugh. Anecdotally, however, we find American millennials to be wildly creative, bold in their ambitions, weird in all the right ways, and full of fascinating solutions to difficult problems. But that’s not consistent with this study’s findings, so we’ll just have to keep celebrating American millennials doing awesome sh*t until the next “Millennials are the worst!” study comes out. [ed]