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Sat Apr 27, 2013, 05:43 AM

The Unluckiest Generation: What Will Become of Millennials?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

http://cdn-media.nationaljournal.com/?controllerName=image&action=get&id=28208&width=990&height=

The nearly 3.7 million American babies born in 1982 weren't special, except to their families. But in the eyes of demographers, they were categorically different from the 3.6 million Americans born in 1981. They were the first members of a new club: Generation Y.

This so-called millennial cohort, the largest generation in American history, landed in the cradle during an awful recession, learned to walk during the Reagan recovery, came of age in the booming 1990s, and entered the labor market after the Sept. 11 attacks and before the Great Recession, the two tragedies of the early 21st century. They've survived an eventful few decades.


Yet nothing in those vertiginous 30 years could have prepared them for the economic sledgehammer that followed the collapse of the housing market in 2007-08. And the aftereffects, economists fear, may dog them for the rest of their working lives.

Generation Y is the most educated in American history, but its education came at a price. Average debt for graduates of public universities doubled between 1996 and 2006. Students chose to take it on because they expected to find a job that paid it off; instead, they found themselves stranded in the worst economy in 80 years. Young people who skipped college altogether have faced something worse: depressed wages in a global economy that finds it easier than ever to replace jobs with technology or to move them overseas.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 08:31 AM

1. My daughter, 27,000 ed debt and makes 10 per hour. We believed her ed would be worth it. K&R

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 08:56 AM

2. Out of their bad luck will come huge reforms. Move out of the way, complacent Boomers and Gen X'ers!


And just for the record, I'm technically an "X'er."

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 09:14 AM

4. I move between Gen X and Gen Y depending on article.

It seems the definition is fluid from 1977 to 1983. In this one I'd be considered X. That said, I associate more with Y.

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Response to NutmegYankee (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 01:10 PM

11. I'm in the same boat as you are

I was born in 1980 and associate much more with the Y than X. I was extremely sheltered through the 80s and don't know any of the 80s culture (I watched a documentary on the 80s last week and did not remember a thing).

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 10:34 AM

6. The problem is most Y's I know are Rand Paul fans

The have become nihilistic to the concept of government. A lot of them are taken by the Reagan concept of government in a bad thing. Mostly because its been the Republican parties platform to make government seem like a bad thing.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 10:43 AM

7. I guess I'm an Xer, although I don't really think of myself as such.

I think this country's obsession with generational nicknames is pretty strange. It probably has more to do with advertising gimmicks than anything else.

But all that aside, most of the people I know who are around my age either aren't doing well, or they're in precarious financial situations. A common problem for them is chronic unemployment or underemployment. There's a lot of anxiety about whether there will be any jobs left for them if/when the economy bounces back. Many are fearful that they'll get skipped over for younger applicants. Most of them don't have much savings, if any at all, and are still too young to retire anyway.

This country faces a lot of challenges to provide opportunity for all of us at any age and things need to be done now to prepare for the future. The gridlock in our government isn't going to cut it anymore. People are getting very restless. They've lost hope and the change has not been forthcoming. I feel like people are waiting for something to happen, anything at all.

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Response to LuvNewcastle (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 11:21 AM

8. I go back and forth on the usefulness of these broad-brush descriptions, too.


I do think there is an overall "feel" to different generations, though, even if there is wide diversity among the members.

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Response to LuvNewcastle (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 11:49 AM

9. the generational names and "characteristics"

are divisive and created by those corporate interests who want to play off the need to "be different by consuming something."

It's all about creating a sense of lack.

More than ever we need to work together--one generation can't do it alone.

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #9)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 11:57 AM

10. I agree.

Divided we fall.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 09:07 AM

3. My two sons both bought houses dirt cheap at interestrates close to free money.

Nice houses, neither was a dump or 'fixer-upper'.

Both sons are Gen Y.

There are opportunties, if one can take advantage of them.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 09:26 AM

5. The story itself is more balanced than that headline would suggest...

...though I think the writer really ought to have provided a touch more historical context.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

But in some ways, millennials are also the luckiest.

For one thing, they're living in an age of affordable abundance. Food has never been cheaper as a share of the typical American family budget. The price of apparel is also falling relative to wages. The Internet, while no substitute for gainful employment, has made many things cheaper that used to take extra income to buy--communication, notably, including private information-sharing and professional collaboration. It has made casual retail cheaper (and more convenient). It has also made mass entertainment cheaper, especially music and amateur videos. These commodities have grown cheaper, in part, by replacing and lowering the cost of human work.

That we live in a golden era of cheap essentials and entertainment might register as cold statistical comfort for the millions of unemployed millennials who watch their dreams fade with every passing year. This group can hope for another mitigating factor: time. The U.S. economy is expected to continue its recovery--unemployment falling, wages rising, debts slowly getting repaid, life going on as it did before 2008. In an economy that is now creating 200,000 private-sector jobs a month, the total debt held by young adults has shrunk to its lowest level in 15 years.

Even if millennials haven't read about these trends, they seem to feel them in their bones. The Pew study that found twentysomethings moving back home also reported that nine in 10 millennials said they already earn (or have) enough money, or expect to in the future. If optimism has any currency, the millennials may well outgrow their miserable circumstances and bequeath to their own children a more prosperous nation than their parents left for them. They're the best-educated generation in American history, moving into their prime working years while home prices remain fairly cheap. Is that so unlucky?


There are daunting challenges -- i.e., serious health care and wellness issues in the U.S. population (Consider our rates of obesity and diabetes), climate change, long-term national security considerations, and of course the overall economic outlook (wages, globalization, etc.).

But today's millennials aren't facing their own Great Depression or World War I or II, or lynchings, or Jim Crow, or women being barred from the vote or career advancement. Racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia are still problems, but society is moving on, sometimes slowly.

And even the context for recessions is quite interesting. See the timeline here.

http://economicsonlinetutor.com/recessionsushistory.html

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 01:37 PM

12. Damn it, if I was born just 7 months earlier I would have had it much easier....

It is kinda messed up when it's all laid out like that though.

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