Despite the numerous titles our generation has received over the years, it appears we’re no longer the “lazy generation” “Gen Whine” or “Generation Limbo.” Now, we have been graced with the title “The Lost Generation.”
According to new census figures released Thursday, Sept. 22, Generation Y is struggling to leave home, find work, and begin a family in record numbers, in addition receiving less-than-hopeful prospects for the near future.
A recent Atlantic article discussed the reasons for associating the Millennial generation with this new title:
Fact: Only 55% of Americans aged 16-29 have jobs.
Fact: 5.9 Million Americans between 25-34 live with their parents, a 25% increase since 2007.
Fact: Between 2000 and 2010, employment for young adults declined 18%, the lowest since World War II.
Fact: 20% is the amount of young men living with their parents, which is twice the rate for young women.
Fact: The poverty rate for people under 30 has reached 37%.
Fact: 44% of people aged 25-34 are married, a record low considering 57% of people that age were married in 2000.
But does this make us lost? And if so, how?
Let’s start with the obvious reason for these depressing statistics: The Great Recession. The first problem? Unlike our parents, who were able to get jobs young and begin saving for their $401 K’s and retirement funds before they were 30, our generation can’t even get jobs at the Gap, never mind start saving for the future.
This has an effect on the second problem: student debt. The amount of student debt this generation has accumulated far out-weighs what any other generation before us could even imagine. For our parents and grandparents, attending college was something to commit to for four years, not 40. Tuition hikes have been the downfall of this generation, despite the fact that we are the most educated generation America has seen. Even if we could get a job to keep our heads above water, the dark shadow of student debt will be following us for decades to come.
Fact: “Two decades after graduating into a recession, an unlucky generation can continue earning 10 percent less than somebody who left school a few years before or after the downturn,” says the Atlantic’s article.
In addition, there was a piece of that article that stated something ironic and true, something I personally hadn’t fully realized before: “For Millennials, this is the great irony of the Great Recession. A crisis that started in the housing market could wind up having the most lasting negative impact on the one generation that didn’t own any homes before the bust.”
Here’s the problem, though, with the newly bestowed Lost Generation title… Who says we can’t recover within the next decade?
Yes, Millennials are in a bad place right now (much like the rest of the country), and yes, we are struggling to find jobs, pay off loans, and make it on our own, but to claim the Great Recession will scar Gen-Y for decades to come seems like a bit of an over-step. There have been generations of past century that have been deemed “lost.” For example, the young adults coming out of World War I (the generation we are now being compared to) were pretty lost, and yet a couple decades later, they recovered and gave birth to the Great Suburbians (the Baby Boomer generation), the most successful generation in our history.
Gen Yers have been described as the largest, most diverse, most open-minded, most tech-savvy, most eco-friendly generation in America. Like I wrote in a post titled “A Millennial Response to Huff Po’s Delia Llyod’s 5 New Facts About Our Generation,” in May, our generation has been brought up in a time of incredible change, making it nearly impossible for people to pinpoint us as a whole. We are still evolving, and Millennials have surprised America over the years, so who is to say we can’t come out of this in the next decade? Where’s your faith??
The most notable thing about this generation is our ability to adapt quickly. We are the generation of entrepreneurs, start-ups and we always have a back-up plan. Yes, we take risks, but we also know we may have to create jobs, work odd jobs, and do things unassociated with our bachelor’s degrees to get by until the economy turns around. We get that.
To say we’re “lost” is a bit of a reach. We know what we want to do, we took out loans to attend university and get degrees. The economy is what is holding us back, and while the press can claim we are postponing adulthood, it only seems that way because we don’t have another option at this point. We are haunted by student debt, a terrible economy, the highest poverty rate in years, and an unemployment rate that continues to cripple society.
Millennials may seem “lost,” but our generation is unique and different, which may explain this new association. They just want to put a label on us.
Just because we aren’t successful straight out of college, making high salaries, saving for retirement funds and beginning a family by the ripe age of 30, does not necessarily mean we are “lost.” Generation Y is unlike any other generation America has seen, so the fact that we aren’t following the footsteps of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations shouldn’t surprise anyone, for we are making our own path and making due with what the current economy has given us.
What do you think about this new title associated with millennials? Are we really lost?