Live with your parents again? Chances are you’re not lazy, or a loser, or any other stigma that might be hovering in your subconscious due to cultural stereotyping; you’re just a normal millennial responding to the economic realities of the age. For the first time in 130 years, more Americans between ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. That is according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center published May 24 based on national census data from 2014.
In the past several days, the news media have been reporting from airports such as O’Hare or LAX where the lines to go through security are longer than the waitinglist for Hamilton. Many of the folks standing in those lines have reported missing flights, which then creates flights that are overcrowded with the folks from the earlier connections that didn’t get made.
Let’s take a look at the era that began in 2001, when the ï¬rst Millennials graduated college, got jobs and started families. Eight years later, in 2009, Millennials drove 23 percent fewer miles on average than their same-age predecessors did in 2001. That is, their average mileage—VMT, or vehicle miles traveled—plummeted from 10,300 miles a year to 7,900, a difference of 2,400 miles a year, or 46 fewer miles a week.
Jennifer Phang’s indie science fiction film “Advantageous,” a darling of 2015’s Sundance, came to Netflix Instant Streaming earlier this week. If you’re a millennial, you have Netflix. If you’re an un- or underemployed millennial, you have time. Every un- or underemployed millennial needs to see this movie.
Nearly any time Democrats lose an election, there is a pervasive narrative that, just around the bend, there will be an “emerging Democratic majority.” Originally projected to occur between 2004 and 2008, it now appears further away than ever after last month’s midterm blowout. Republicans have a stranglehold on the House, where they control their largest number of seats since 1948. That lead will be incredibly tough to chip away at. Democratic chances of regaining the Senate in 2016, once considered a near certainty, are looking iffy. Republicans control 31 governorships, as well as 68 of 98 state legislative chambers. Democrats still have a strong chance of winning the presidency, but given the importance of the states for shaping income distribution and policy, even that victory will ring hollow.
There’s a lot of hoopla in the media about how Millennials are the best-educated generation in history, blah, blah, blah. But according to a Pew survey, that’s a distortion of reality. In fact, two-thirds of Millennials between ages 25 and 32 don’t have a bachelor's degree. The education gap among this generation is higher than for any other in history in terms of how those with a college degree will fare compared to those without. Reflecting a trend that has been gaining momentum in the rest of America, Millennials are rapidly getting sorted into winners and losers. Most of them are losing. That’s going to cost this generation a lot —and the rest of society, too.
The following first appeared in Cannabis Now:
- Americans over age 65 are projected to increase from 14 percent of the current population to about 21 percent of the population by 2035.
- The Social Security Trust Fund had a surplus of $2.54 trillion in it at the end of 2011, and is projected to be solvent until 2033.
- Though most people don't know it, Congress has cut Social Security payments by 24 percent since 1983, via delayed cost-of-living increases and higher taxes.
- One-third of seniors live only on SS benefits, which is an average of only $1,274 a month per retiree. For two-thirds of retirees, the Social Security benefit is more than half of what they live on.
- The wealth gap is skewed extraordinarily by race. For every dollar a white person has in savings, a Latino person has only 6 cents and a black person has only 5 cents.
- Gender is a huge issue: Seven out of 10 seniors living under 125 percent of the federal poverty line ($14,360) are women.
- Social Security is also the largest federal government program helping children, with 6.5 million recipients, totaling 8 eight of every 100 children in the U.S. in 2012.
- Many people don't realize that no Social Security taxes are paid on incomes over $117,000—so the wealth get off very easily. Slightly raising Social Security payroll taxes would more than cover and sustain the expansion of Social Security.
- Huge numbers of Americans support Social Security reforms, with 87 percent of the population in favor of scrapping the $117k cap and 82 percent in favor of slight Social Security tax increases.
Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they're supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you've been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they're unashamed to display and which they're committed to defending, even at great personal cost, against the bullying of a hostile establishment.
If you can't remember a time when the world was not wired, you are a member of the Millennial Generation -- the 33 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 25. You are special. You are different. The fate of the planet is on your shoulders. No pressure.
Before your arrival, the largest, richest and most influential generation in American history were your parents -- the Baby Boom Generation -- the some 78 million Americans born to G.I. Dads and Lindy-hopping Moms in the years after the end of World War II. Succeeding them, born between 1964 and 1977, was Generation X, clocking in much smaller, at 37 million. But with over 80 million Americans born after 1977, Generation Y is the new large and in charge generation. Gen Y includes Echo Boomers (loosely defined as the children of the Boomers born after 1977), and Millennials, (those born after 1982). Like their Boomer parents before them, the opposite ends of the Gen Y/Echo/Millennial generation are vastly different from each other. And Millennials, say experts, "are unlike any other youths in living memory: More numerous, more affluent, better educated and more ethnically diverse than those who came before." Those words from William Strauss and Neil Howe, social scientists who coined the term "millennial" in their book Millennials and the Pop Culture (LifeCourse Associates, March '06).
Perhaps the most outstanding detail that distinguishes this generation -- from even those born just a couple of years earlier -- is their level of media consumption, particularly online. Today, the average teenager spends more than 72 hours a week using electronic media -- cell phones, internet, television, music and video games -- according to a 2006 study.
"There's an intense focus on openness, sharing information, as both an ideal and a practical strategy to get things done," explained Mark Zuckerberg, 23-year-old Millennial wÃƒÂ¼underkind and founder and CEO of Facebook, in a recent interview with Fast Company. On Facebook.com, students log in daily to chat, flirt and connect -- the average user frittering away eight hours a month on the site.
All that time spent social networking has indoctrinated Millennials into the cult of groupthink, refashioning them into the most collaborative and team-oriented generation the world has seen in many a decade. This manifests in "a wide array of positive social habits that older Americans no longer associate with youth, including a new focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty and good conduct," say Strauss and Howe.
Millennials spend 16 hours a week on the Internet -- and that's not including emailing. Recent research from the Pew Internet and American life project shows nearly 80 percent of the 28 and younger set regularly read blogs, compared with just 30 percent of adults 29 to 40. And roughly 40 percent of teenage and 20-something Internet users have created their own blog, as compared to just a sliver of 30-somethings -- a mere 9 percent.
Thirty-five-year-old entrepreneur and youth-marketing guru Anastasia Goodstein turned her fascination with the evolving Internet habits of Millennials' into a book, Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are REALLY Doing Online (St. Martin's Griffon, March '07). She calls Millennials the "mash up generation," because they're constantly taking bits and pieces of popular culture and then remixing them -- essentially creating their own tailored subcultures.
Out of Myspace and Into the World
But with personally-crafted online networks right at their fingertips, Millennials are confronting some harsh realities when they step outside their virtual world. Julia Dossett, a 25-year-old Marketing Associate for the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago, observes this phenomenon in the numbers of her peers who seem to resist engagement in a personal and professional commitment because "they are waiting around for the ideal to come along." This can breed apathy, resentment and a sense of entitlement.
"None of these will help my generation actually reach the potential we were encouraged to achieve as children so long ago," Dossett laments. "We were raised to believe we could do anything we wanted and be anything we wanted, and that nothing was out of reach. But now that we are young adults living away from our parents -- I think we sometimes find the choices overwhelming."
Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable than Ever Before (Free Press, March '07), blames much of Millennial angst on the over indulgences of boomer parents. "They were raised by 'helicopter' parents who constantly hovered over them -- providing unending praise, support and, perhaps, unrealistic expectations that the world was their oyster," says Twenge. This group is highly optimistic -- they expect to go to college, to make lots of money, and perhaps even to be famous. The misery is produced, says Twenge, when these overly confident youngsters hit a stressed-out work place rife with uncertainty.
"Many people reaching their twenties find that their jobs do not provide the fulfillment and excitement they had anticipated," Twenge continues. "And their salary isn't enough to afford even a small house."
Millennial dissatisfaction in the workplace has not gone unnoticed by employers. Anastasia Goodstein recounts a recent Wall Street Journal article about a company that hired a praise consultant to help assuage the egos of young employees. "This is a generation used to veneration and attention and getting a pat on the back," Goodstein explains. But still, Goodstein wonders what kind of praise the consultant might offer. "Maybe 'Great job, you showed up today!' "
On EmployeeEvolution.com, 20-something bloggers Ryan Paugh and Ryan Healy hope to "create an anonymous dialogue between our generation and the corporations struggling to understand our attitudes about work." In a recent post entitled "Where Should a Millennial Draw the Line?," Paugh writes, "Part of being an entry-level worker is just waiting for something big to come your way. In the meantime, you bite your lip and act busy. Preceding generations say it's normal. I say it sucks. If what our elders say is true, we're supposed to keep on truckin'. Eventually we'll have some real responsibility and the downtime will be nothing less than treasured. The problem is, I don't live my life on blind faith."
Richard Florida, best-selling author of Rise of the Creative Class, gets Paugh's message loud and clear. "This generation values intrinsic rewards more so than salary and benefits," says Florida. "A culture which fosters tolerance and learning is one they will seek out and thrive in. The organizations that do this best will be the ones that prosper in the creative age."
Smart, savvy and civically engaged, there is no doubt Millennials will affect profound change on the political level. When they start occupying elective offices, expect new initiatives to protect children, promote literacy and safety and reform dysfunctional educational systems. Experts also anticipate this generation will affect profound political change on a consumer level, especially concerning where and why they open their pocket books. Their loyalty will lie with socially responsible business practices.
In fact, they're dedicating their time to efforts they care about more than ever before. In 2003, 83 percent of college freshman were volunteering -- up from about 66 percent in 1990 (a side effect of increasingly competitive college acceptance rates perhaps, but nice nonetheless).
And for those dismayed by the general public's apparent distrust of smart politicians, here's a great sign: Eight in ten teens now say it's "cool to be smart." Test scores are up, and 73 percent of high school students say they want a four-year college degree.
"Two things represent my generation," concludes Chris Hales, 25-year-old CEO of Anti-Matter Media a Chicago-based multimedia company. "Technology and the 'Do-It-Yourself' aesthetic. With the increase of technology, opportunities for networking with others seem endless, enabling us to turn out more authors, films, record labels and artists than previous generations. When you put the two together you have the recipe for a generation that is willing to go out and make stuff happen on their own."
The neocons seriously can't claim the anti-war movement as fringe anymore -- 6 in 10 Americans want the troops to come home, according to a new Gallup poll. Who's on board? None other than Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones! Justin Logan writes, "So I would just beseech Mr. Jones and his colleagues: Please, the next time an administration comes to you threatening you with your political life if you don't support an imperial, deferential, arguably anti-constitutional war resolution, would you please remember that once the horse is out of the barn, it's awfully hard to get it back in?" (Justin Logan)