We were born in the 80s to neon-clad parents and grew up in the 90s dancing to Vanilla Ice and binge watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a happy time, unemployment was at 3% (half of what it is today) almost everyone had some disposable income to invest in Zubaz pants and slap-bracelets. Now as adults we have been burdened with college tuition that has increased by 1120% since 1978 (according to Bloomberg). In dollars signs that’s an increase from $10.000 to $59.800. If the increase followed inflation it should’ve been around $21.000. So we graduate with crippling amounts of debt in a crippled job market. There are a few other factors though as to why the job market sucks for Millennials.
We were spoon-fed on the American dream
We sat in our Transformers pajamas and watched shows like Full House, Dinosaurs, Saved by the Bell and Family Matters. Every single guardian in these depictions pursued their dreams and got paid to do so, which Millennials found out doesn’t exactly work. Full House for example featured a father that was a T.V. host, an Uncle that was a comedian and another Uncle that was exterminator turned rock musician. They all lived in a very large home and were upper middle class. Let me reiterate: an upper middle class stand-up comedian and rock musician. That is as rare as a diamond encrusted Sumatran rhino hailing a taxi in Times Square. It’s not something you see every day and when you do you put it on YouTube. So we went forth and pursued our passions but the reception of our BA in Post-Byzantine Sewage Management in the job market was luke-warm.
The Media-nnial Generation
Another factor that contributed to this illusion was the fact that we are the first generation that experienced the transition to mass consumed media. We were most exposed and inevitably influenced by the culture and media of the time. VHS to DVD to Digital to Streaming we were front and center, and according to our mom too close to the screen.
From Wall Street to Walmart
More than half of recent college graduates are currently underemployed. This is such a high rate that taking into consideration the high price of college education, the value of having a degree has come into question. In previous years a college degree was a guaranteed golden key to gates of a suburban cul-de-sac. If you were awarded a degree it was auto-middle class or better. Here’s your degree, a decent job, a wife/husband, three and a half kids and house in the suburbs with a high maintenance yard. Today it goes: Here’s your diploma, your debt and your job at Starbucks, I’ll have a caramel latte once you get a minute.
Promises, promises, promises
On the tail of the entry above, the value of education was beaten into us at a very early age. We all remember the “Be Cool Stay in School” PSA of the 90s and we ran with it. Around 1992, the U.S. raised restrictions on student loans that were dependent on parents’ income. Which basically made it easier to get a student loan. And borrow we did like good little cogs. An average of 35.000 dollars-worth. We might have been promised the American dream but it came at a very high cost.
Do you have a perspective on this topic? What do you think about the job market for millennials? Please let me know in the comment section below!