10 Reasons Millennials Are the Screwed Generation
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Generation gaps are nothing new. Back in the 1930s, members of the World War I generation complained bitterly about their World War II generation offspring and all the swing-dancing, noisy big bands and awful crooners they were into (many of those jitterbugging teenagers of the 1930s went on fight the Nazis after high school and have since been called the “Greatest Generation”).
So it isn’t surprising that there are members of the Baby Boomer generation and Gen X who have a hard time figuring out what makes Millennials, aka Generation Y, tick. People in their 40s, 50s and 60s not understanding people in their 20s is as old as time itself. But if there is one claim about the Millennial generation that is truly absurd, it is the notion that they are entitled, spoiled and pampered. Some Baby Boomers and Gen-X members (especially Boomers) insist that Millennials don’t want to pay their dues and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter, but Millennials on the whole are the polar opposite of entitled or spoiled.
Millennials—those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s/early 2000s—in the United States inherited a country that is broken in many respects. From the worst economy in 80 years to a post-9/11 surveillance state to a dysfunctional healthcare system, Millennials have been given a raw deal. And fighting to get the country back on track will be an enormous task for them.
Here are 10 reasons why Millennials are the most screwed-over generation in recent history.
1. A dying middle class.
Many Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation (essentially the younger end of the World War II generation) entered the workforce at a time when there were still plenty of good-paying jobs in the United States. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, a college degree practically guaranteed a job that paid a living wage, and for blue-collar workers who went to trade school, high-paying unionized jobs were not hard to come by. Gen X, however, confronted some harsh realities during the recession of the early 1990s, when many college graduates found themselves in dead-end service jobs (which was unheard of in the 1950s and 1960s). But the American economy boomed considerably in the mid- to late-1990s, and many Gen-Xers who had struggled in the early 1990s went on to prosper as the 1990s progressed (especially during Bill Clinton’s second term as president). Millennials, however, were unable to take advantage of that Clinton-era prosperity, and they entered the workforce at a time when the American middle class was in danger of extinction. Many Boomers and X-ers have had their savings depleted by the economic downturn of the late 2000s and early 2010; many Millennials haven’t even had a chance to build a substantial savings.
2. The financial crash of Sept. 2008.
The United States’ financial problems didn’t begin with the crash of September 2008. American manufacturing jobs were being exported to developing countries long before that, and the North American Free Trade Agreement of the early 1990s proved to be every bit as damaging as Ross Perot predicted it would be. But the crash of 2008 greatly accelerated the U.S.’ decline, and five years later, millions of Americans continue to suffer. The number of Americans who were poor enough to qualify for food stamps was just over 17 million in 2000; in 2013, it’s 47 million. Misleading Bureau of Labor Statistics figures claim that the unemployment rate in the U.S. fell to 7.4% in July 2013, but that figure excludes all the Americans who have been unemployed for so long the BLS no longer counts them as part of the workforce. In this abysmal job climate, Millennials have a hard time building a résumé because they are competing with desperate Gen-Xers and Boomers who have decided that being underemployed is better than being unemployed and are willing to dumb down their résumés in the hope of finding steady, if inadequate, income.