Baby Boomers are just trying to blame younger generations for the messes they created.
Let’s dive right it. Here’s why Millennials aren’t lazy as a generation.
Student Debt Is Higher Than Ever
It’s hard to pay down a debt when the job market is oversaturated with people just like you. It’s even harder to pay down that debt when it’s more than twice has high as it was 20 years ago.
Student debt has become a dumpster fire in a bubble that’s bound to pop. Student debt grew by 511% between 1999 and 2011 alone, if you can believe it.
As of 2018, the average student spends $30,000 USD on college per year (tuition, books, rent, food, utilities, and so on). That’s $120,000 USD over the course of a 4-year bachelor’s degree.
But you know the craziest part? The average student debt is just $29,800 USD. That means students’ families actually pay off three-quarters of the education by graduation. The family unit, at least, is hauling ass to pay off that debt, if not the students themselves.
But that debt is still so, so much higher than it was for previous generations, including Gen X.
You’re not going to pay your own way through college with debt like that—not working just summers and then some part-time work on minimum wage. Even in places with recently raised minimum wages, like Ontario’s hike to $15 CAD ($11.25 USD) per hour, isn’t enough for you to save up in a reasonable amount of time.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers, working for $11.25 per hour instead of America’s $7.25 minimum wage. That works out to be:
- $90 for an 8-hour day
- $450 for a single work week
- $1,935 per month (4.3 weeks)
- $23,400 per year (52 weeks)
That doesn’t include Federal taxes (a little over 11% on average, in this scenario), or state-level taxes if that applies to you.
Even if you didn’t spend a dime on anything except saving for your education and related living expenses, it would take 6 years working full-time to cover the costs.
Oh wait, I forgot to include inflation and however much the cost of education will rise in that 6-year period. Might as well make that 8 years, then.
Realistically, you’ll need to live on that money as you save up in most cases, unless you can swing living at home for 6 or more years after high school without spending a penny.
That doesn’t mean that anyone deserves a free pass—but very few people are actually asking for one. It just sounds appealing as a campaign promise because the only other alternative has been crippling debt.
Entry-Level Job Requirements Are Higher Than Ever
My first boss lamented how “students can’t do anything these days.”
Ironically, he was probably the least talented person at his own company.
New grads are expected to be professionals right out of the gates, which is why “professional” programs like engineering, nursing, marketing, and supply chain management have become so popular.
That’s because entry-level jobs aren’t really “entry-level” anymore. It’s no coincidence that some companies will string along graduates for several years of unpaid internships before offering them an “entry-level” job with a salary two years lower than their actual experience level.
But the workplace is changing so quickly that spending 2-4 years preparing for a single occupation isn’t always the answer, either (and engineers aren’t immune to unemployment, either).
After being let go from my first job, I had to freelance and network for 9 months before I found a second job for a sort-of-entry-sort-of-mid-tier job. I had to market myself as a professional with two years of experience, with half of that being unique as a freelancer (making my own website, managing my own time, finances, and clientele
It’s tough to get a job out there, and there are 600% more bachelor degree holders in the US today compared to 1970.
Anyone razzing millennials for not getting jobs when they’re legitimately trying is just ignorant.
The next time a Baby Boomer or member of the Silent Generation gives you shit, then you ask them what they were doing during the “Me Decade” in the 1970s, and why their generation gave up raising their kids, Gen Xers. Ask them why they voted against gay marriage. Ask them why their generation voted for Brexit and Trump.
Wait for them to explain why you shouldn’t judge an entire generation based on the actions of some people.
And keep waiting a little longer.
If they still don’t get it, then explain it to them so that an entitled 10-year-old would understand it.
Housing Costs Are Higher Than Ever
Baby Boomers ruined the housing industry, enjoyed the price hikes, and then never moved out.
Gen Xers got in on the housing market before it became ridiculously bad, but hell, they earned it—they’ve endured a half-dozen recessions and economic crises between 1970 and 2008.
But you can’t alienate an entire generation from the housing market, let rent prices get out of control too, and then belittle that generation for not being able to afford housing at the same age (on top of crippling college costs, lower wages, and a crazy flooded job market).
Baby Boomers weren’t any harder working than anyone else. They just happened to grow up in the single most economically prosperous and stable period in the last 1,500 years of human history.
Their grandparents fought in the First World War. Their parents fought in the Second World War. And they went to college.
Suburban sprawl isn’t the norm for society. It wasn’t even the norm for North American cities until the 1950s. It just seems that way because Baby Boomers grew up with the phenomenon, and they passed that assumption down to the rest of us.
Read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs if you’re interested in learning more about that.
That includes the entire suburban expansion outside of every major city in North America, including those overpriced duplexes and overpriced “condo apartments” you still can’t afford.
Millennials Leave Because Your Work Environment Blows
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Baby Boomers job hopped just as much in their 20s as Millennials ever have, holding an average of 5.5 jobs between ages 18-24 and 4.5 jobs from 25-34.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s get to the real issue.
People don’t job hop because they’re aimless and ungrateful, necessarily.
They leave because they need to take new job offers just to maintain a decent growth trajectory for their salaries. Companies don’t pay young people like they used to, and wages definitely stagnate.
Case in point: My first job started at $21,000 USD in 2015 with a Master’s Degree. I signed a contract to move up to $25,000 in 3 months if my performance was good (it was excellent), and then to $27,000 if my performance was still good (I ended up running the company informally for my absentee boss). No benefits.
That boss tried to go back on the second raise even after I kept everything together for him.
In my second job, my new boss avoided a 12-month review (no review, no raise). He hired someone else with a similar resume 12 months after hiring me, but paid that person $5,000 more. The guy ended up leaving because of the awful culture, but it hardly mattered—his work was half as good as mine, but he got more money anyway.
The message was clear.
That boss didn’t give me a reasonable raise until he saw me post a resume on Indeed. It didn’t matter. Someone else approached me and offered me $18,000 more, plus full benefits.
My immediate supervisor at that second job (not the owner) worked there for 4.5 years and made less than what I had been offered for my third job. I could have worked there another 3 years and still never made what I made in my third job.
I took the offer. Obviously. Anyone would, including those old bosses of mine.
I didn’t even cover the problems with toxic culture at those workplaces, either, but they were pretty bad.
So, yeah, millennials job hop. The older generations running their companies don’t give them much of a choice. They say “that’s business,” and it is—so no one should be surprised when people job hop just to earn reasonable raises.
Finally: Baby Boomers Invented Participation Trophies, Not Millennials
Do you know anyone who wants to be forced into activities, paraded out in front of the entire school’s extended family, and then applauded for not really doing anything?
Not the poor first-grade children forced to dance to the “La Macarena” in a reindeer costume in front of the school’s parents for a holiday concert.
Yes, that really happened. No, I didn’t want a ribbon.
Millennials’ parents and teachers invented this concept of participation trophies. It was part of the pressure to be exceptional straight-A students. Every kid was special, but the kids didn’t come up with that.
And yet I have never seen a participation ribbon pinned up by a fridge magnet. Have you?
It’s almost as if the prevailing wisdom around parenting and education in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s were flawed, somehow. Which generation dominated the workforce in those decades, again?
I’ll give you 3 guesses.