State of the Generation: Millennials in Crisis
Millennials are defined as the demographic who were born between the years 1982 and 2004. This generation lived through the tumultuous Bush administration and came of age during the Recession of 2008.
With vague childhood memories of Clinton Era prosperity combined with the greatest economic crisis in decades, it is no surprise that Millennials have struggled as they’ve reached adulthood. Millennials are often unfairly maligned as childish and lazy. One common criticism is that this generation continues living at home with their parents long after other generations had moved out.
This criticism fails to take into account the economic conditions that have made it difficult, if not impossible, for Millennials to establish themselves as independent adults. For one thing, many Millennials are forced to take unpaid internships simply to put something on their resume.
These internships have all the responsibilities of an actual, paid job yet none of the benefits. Internships have proliferated since the 1980’s. In order to get a job these days, an internship is basically a necessity. However, internships were originally about training workers. They were never intended to be a replacement for paid employment.
Another issue facing Millennials in underemployment. When a Millennial does finally escape the cycle of internships, they often discover that their job does not fit their skill set.
Millennials are arguably the most educated generation in history. However, nearly fifty percent of college graduates report that their jobs don’t require college degrees. The jobs Millennials often fill are retail, wholesale, healthcare, business, hospitality and manufacturing.
Manufacturing, business and healthcare have good pay, but the other three do not. The fact that Millennials often get low paying jobs goes a great deal towards explaining why their economic conditions are so dire. Indeed, Millennials are the largest sector of the retail industry. Retail is a very low paying job and it is not possible to make a good living on a retail clerk’s salary. (This reporter should know as he worked retail.)
The cause of this high unemployment is debatable. The recession of 2008 seems to have badly affected Millennials who were just starting out at the time. Also, older generations are staying in the workforce longer. This means there are fewer openings for younger workers. This begs the question of why older workers are staying in the workforce which is beyond the scope of this article. To make it brief, retirement programs such as social security are running out of money.
Unemployment and underemployment are two problems which have negatively affected the economic outlook of Millennials. Another problem which compounds these two issues is student loan debt.
In order to get a college education which they have been told is necessary for a good job many Millennials have gone into debt. Sixty percent of Millennials have taken out student loans. Many Millennials have taken multiple jobs simply to pay off this debt.
Considering these issues, it is no wonder that Millennials have been unable to establish financial independence.