The Saratoga Sun -

Talking 'bout my generation

 

February 21, 2018



“You know what’s wrong with your generation?”

If I had a penny for every time I had someone pose this rhetorical question to me, I would finally be able to afford a house of my own.

I was born in 1986, which puts me on the older end of the spectrum for the Millennial generation. You know, the generation that has been accused of ruining Applebee’s, department stores, beer, marriage and a number of other classic American institutions.

While commonly agreed to be the generation that follows “Gen X,” the exact start and end dates of the Millennial generation are still up for debate. Most people agree that it generally starts in the early to mid-1980s and ends in the early 2000s. This means that Millennials range in age from 14 to 36, give or take a few years.

As one of the older members of this generation, being a child of the 80s, I will be expecting my participation trophy in the mail.

According to national headlines my generation is being blamed for, well, damn near everything. Take the July 24, 2017 edition of the Business Insider which ran with the headline “Millennials are killing the beer industry.” According to a headline for the April 4, 2017 edition of Bloomberg, “Young Americans Are Killing Marriage.” The website sheknows.com ran a headline on Aug. 6, 2015 that read “Millennials are killing relationships and we should be concerned.”

If you’re curious about all the things that my generation has ruined, a pretty comprehensive list can be found on the website mashable.com. Or just type “things millennials have ruined” in Google. I was able to get over 1 million results in less than a minute. It should make for some fun afternoon reading.

Millennials are also told that we want everything handed to us.

Give us a living wage along with that participation trophy!

For argument’s sake, let’s give the Millennial generation a definite starting point of 1982. That means that the first members of this generation graduated high school in 2000 and let’s assume the majority of this generation went to college. After all, if you don’t go to college you will wind up flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

Millennials are also killing McDonald’s by the way.

If the first Millennials attended college for the standard four year period, they would be graduating about 2004 and entering the workforce. Two years after graduating from college, the first signs of the housing market crash began to appear as it reached its zenith in 2006. Then, in 2007, the housing market crashed and lead to one of the worst recessions in recent history.

Thirty years ago, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median price of a new house was $110,000 with the average being $137,600. As of December 2017, the median price had gone up to approximately $335,000 with the average being $398,900. That’s a median increase of 204 percent and an average increase of 190 percent!

Over that same time, the cost of living has increased while wages have stayed relatively stagnant. In 1988 $10 an hour was a pretty decent wage, especially considering the minimum wage was $3.35.That $10 doesn’t have the same buying power it once had, though. If you were wanting to make the same amount of money now as you did in 1988, with adjustments for inflation, you’d have to be paid nearly $21 an hour.

For most of the people in my generation, the thought of buying a house is a long distant dream. Most of us can barely afford to pay rent on a place. The National Low Income Housing Coalition released a study in 2017 calculating how much a person would need to make, hourly, to afford to pay Fair Market Rent on a two bedroom house without spending more than 30 percent of their income.

There isn’t a single place in the United States where a person can conceivably do this based on the current minimum wage. In Carbon County alone, a person would have to make just over $30,000 a year, or work two full-time minimum wage jobs, to be able to be able to afford the average $750 a month rent on a place and still manage to put money in savings.

Remember, the minimum wage was passed in 1938 by FDR to set a federal standard for businesses to pay their employees a minimum living wage.

“By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level–I mean the wages of a decent living,” said Roosevelt.

Of course, it could just be all the Starbucks caramel venti non-GMO cappuccinos we Millenials are buying to drink in our safe spaces as to why we can’t afford to rent or buy a house.

Millennials are killing the housing market, the workforce, the diamond industry, travel marketing, the American Dream, cruises, vacations, dinner dates and ... the list goes on.

Could it be that the reason we are “killing” these things is because so many of us are working ourselves to death to try and save money to raise families, pay medical bills or pay off outrageous students loans incurred to obtain jobs that no longer exist? All so that we can buy a house that we can’t afford and may never fully pay off?

As you finish reading this over a bowl of cereal while pondering these questions, enjoy those last few spoonfuls. Apparently Millennials are killing the cereal industry as well.

 

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