NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The gender wage gap seems to be closing for the youngest generation of workers, but disparities still await as people climb closer to the top.

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According to a new study — conducted jointly by online salary site PayScale and consulting firm Millennial Branding — the wage gap between the sexes is smaller for members of Generation Y at all job levels than those of previous generations, such as Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers. However, the gap still widens for Gen Y-ers — and those in other generations — as the responsibility level increases.

“Millennials are all about equality, and they are the first generation to openly talk about their salaries in the workplace to ensure they are getting paid equally," said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding. “Millennials are pushing companies to treat genders fairly and now that millennial women are more educated and are having children later in life, which has given them more time to focus on their careers.”

Education Does Not Guarantee Financial Freedom

The study shows so-called Millennials also are the most educated generation in history, with more than three-quarters —79% — holding at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 69% for Gen-Xers and 62% for Boomers. And while better educated may be a good thing most of time, the study points out that may not be true when it comes time to pay the bills. The research states that as college education and advanced degrees become more common, those who do not major in highly sought-after majors like engineering struggle with heavier student debt loads than ever before — meaning high debt for the youngest segment of the workforce.

And while it may seem contradictory since they are the most educated, Millennials also are having the hardest time getting out of their parents house. According to the research,  Millennials are having a much harder time achieving financial independence than previous generations, with 24% saying they have had to move back home at some point after entering the workforce due to financial hardship.The same is true of only 10% of Gen-Xers and 5% of Baby Boomers.

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“While Millennials are the most educated generation, they are still living with their parents and are the most unemployed or underemployed generation,” Schawbel said. “This is because of the bad economy that still hasn't fully recovered.”

The percentage seems to decrease as education increases, with only 7% of Millennial PhDs having had to move back home, while 16% of Millennial MDs ended up living back at their parents’ home after graduation.

However, along the same lines many of the most educated Gen Y-ers are having a tough time finding a job. The study’s results show, Gen-Yers who hold a Ph.D. report being underemployed — meaning they are underpaid for their education and training or not getting full-time work — at a rate of 34%, compared to 27% for Gen X-ers and 25% for Boomers.

Finally, the new research shows Millennials are increasingly bringing new and emerging skills to the workforce — including an understanding of new technologies like Sketchbook Pro, Google Analytics, social media and optimization — and are eager for their careers to take off.  When describing their ideal job, Millennials more than other generations, say they are more likely to value opportunities for career advancement and the chance to learn new skills. They also are more likely than other generations to study majors related to entrepreneurialism and have a strong desire to own their own business.

—Written by Chris Metinko for MainStreet

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