Millennials least likely to think high earners are paid too much

Paul HiebertData Journalist
June 23, 2016, 2:04 PM GMT+0

New data from YouGov Omnibus shows that young people are more inclined to believe elite professions deserve their income

The median pay of middle school teachers is $55,860 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For police officers, it's $60,270. Nurses: $67,490.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated reports that, on average, NFL offensive linemen received around $1.8 million each in 2013. Film stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, and Denzel Washington make $20 million per picture.

Despite the huge wage disparity between entertainers and public service professionals, a new survey from YouGov Omnibus suggests millennials aren't overly concerned about it — at least not as much as their elders.

When asked if certain professions were either overpaid or underpaid, only 66% of young people said actors were overpaid, compared to 76% of 35-54 year olds and 90% of those 55 and up. At the same time, 67% of millennials thought professional athletes were paid too much, while older generations thought the same but at much higher rates (79% and 94%). Indeed, a similar pattern emerged for other high-paying professions, such as CEOs and lawyers.

As for teachers and nurses, only a very small percentage from all three age groups considered them over-compensated. Interestingly, the only profession more millennials than those 35 years and older think is overpaid is police officers.

Why such a big generational divide? It could be that young people are less experienced in the working world. Or maybe having grown up admiring mega-rich individuals in a celebrity-obsessed culture, it just seems normal for people in the spotlight to make lots of money. Then again, perhaps older people are slightly jealous of other people's fortune, while millennials are still hoping to strike it big.