The gap between the earnings of those below 35 and those over 35 is now sufficiently large to say that the younger generation will NOT live better than their parents or grandparents. This generation, tagged Generation Y, is seeing its window close and a growing likelihood it will be the first generation in American history to live less well than previous generations.
Generation Y men and women with skills and educational levels that should have been gateways to at least an upper middle class life are finding that the positions they trained for in various professions either don’t exist or are so rare as to be all but impossible to secure.
One recent law school graduate has bitterly commented: “I had a lot of faith in the system, the mythology that if you work really hard you can achieve anything, and the stock market always goes up. It was pretty naïve on my part.”
Generation Y professionals have seen their average incomes fall by 8% since the beginning of 2008, and their unemployment rate is consistently higher than the general population.
A Rutgers University survey of 2006 college graduates found that only 20% even expected to live better than their parents, a level of pessimism that is well-founded in light of their almost 50% unemployment rate. Moreover, only 20% said that their current job was part of their long-term career path.
Realizing they have been fooled
After just a few short years, a 33 year old 2009 law school graduate is now saying that her belief that the education she was receiving was valuable was “…pretty naïve on my part.” She is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the San Francisco School of Law, from which she graduated. The suit alleges that the school overstated available positions and graduates’ potential earnings. The National Association for Law Placement Inc. in Washington has acknowledged that the Law school class of 2011 has experienced a 49.5 percent placement rate, which is the lowest since Jimmy Carter was in office.
Generation Y was one of Barack Obama’s strongest supporters. Now they are learning a hard lesson about paying attention when they vote. They are our next generation. They are our children. They wouldn’t listen, and now they have made a mess they might never outlive. This is too sad for words.
Photo credit: JPott (Creative Commons)