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Article: American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals
Old 12-24-2012, 02:51 PM   #1
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Article: American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals

A friend shared this article with me.

American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals - Bloomberg

Do young dreamers agree with the article? I feel that my generation (X) hasn't had it as good as the baby boomers, but I don't think we're struggling as much as Gen Y. It's my perception that things seem particularly bleak for them due to soaring education costs and increased competition for the fewer available good paying jobs. I know of several young people in my social circle that are experiencing prolonged unemployment/underemployment, and I don't know when things will get better for them.

Anyway, I feel this should serve as a big motivation for Gen Y to achieve FIRE, and to treat their income like lottery winnings.
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Old 12-24-2012, 03:51 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by azphx1972 View Post
A friend shared this article with me.

American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals - Bloomberg


Anyway, I feel this should serve as a big motivation for Gen Y to achieve FIRE, and to treat their income like lottery winnings.
Sheeplike people may do this for a while, since their expectation is that this is a temporary condition, and America has always offered opportunities to reasonably well educated and house broken young people. But before long if things do not change in their favor, they will start acting like the young in Egypt or Greece or Argentina. Then by observing the government and police response we can judge how things will go.

Bernanke's money creating game is at least in part an attempt to stay short of this point.

I am glad my sons hit the job market while it was either good, or at least reasonably good.

Those of us who were early boomers or even older had an absolute picnic by contrast.

Ha
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:17 PM   #3
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As a boomer father of three GenYer's I have concerns. Let me note that I have always been a pull yourself up optimist throughout my work life. I honestly don't see the same opportunities out there for the bulk of todays workers.
Yeah I could look at my kids and they're doing alright but perhaps it's part good fortune.
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:29 PM   #4
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It's a reversion to the mean, to more rational expectations than had previously existed. The post war generations were anomalies, and then we compounded the issue by living on borrowed money for another couple of decades--false prosperity that we >>still<< aren't willing to release (See "QE3" et al). On an absolute level compared to their peers in the rest of the world, young Americans are doing great. It's only compared to their parents and grandparents that things look dim.
If they want a better future for their kids, they'll need to give some real thought to how wealth gets created and the role they ask government to play.
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:04 PM   #5
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I agree that as a whole we need to temper our expectations. However as a member of this group I also believe that we did not LBOM. We never leveraged very much - our biggest mortgage was 60k in 1995. Worked, plodded along at times, lucky at others and it worked out. To this point , today I added 2 years to my retirement calendar just in case. As I've stated before I'm very fortunate with the job I have. The only reason I contemplate Er is the fact that I'm FI. Working at a much less difficult job than my kids I might just be able to help a little in the future/
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:16 PM   #6
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As a boomer father of three GenYer's I have concerns. Let me note that I have always been a pull yourself up optimist throughout my work life. I honestly don't see the same opportunities out there for the bulk of todays workers.
Yeah I could look at my kids and they're doing alright but perhaps it's part good fortune.
The most clever and tuned in people from any generation are likely to do ok.

But that will not support a modern democratic socialist society. Some small cut off the bottom are likely relegated to bare survial, welfare of various sorts, or very low consumption lives. But a democracy will not stand for more than maybe 20% falling into this group. In fact it is economically impossible. 70% of our GNP is consumer sales, and this requires people with money to spend. And to spend frivolously, since the things that really matter are often very hard to buy. Good health insurance, and perhaps a house in a good school district where their kids will have some chance of learning something. Already, the majority of Americans are not even taxpayers. Most of these have some income, just not enough that they are a source of funds for government, rather than a use of funds.

I'd say that employment must turn up, and fairly soon, or we can look for problems.

I agree with the overall attidude here- pull yourself up, work hard, etc. But this is only reality for some people. Even apparently sharp people can make some seemingly odd decisions. After all, attitudes are more or less normally distributed, just like intelligence, drive, etc. I know a well educated young woman, about 37 by now, with a Big 12 University education, 4 years of university athletics and letters, and a real daily attendence in class MBA. Plus she is knockout good looking. She has traveled all over the world, certainly knows how to act well, but as best I can tell, she has not yet ever had a full time fully professional position. To top off this lousy situation, she recently ditched her very successful hard working well employed husband. She accepted an oddly small settlemnt in cash, so no spousal support coming even though she was married for 12 years. I think she was just really tired of him and tired of the struggle of the divorce, so she bailed. I know him too, and compared to her he is deadly boring, but they were married apparently happily for many years. And he is fully employed and will likely continue to be employed until he wishes to retire. I think that if I had been her, this would have weighed pretty heavily in my decision of whether to stay or go.

A couple of times I offered to give her some contacts who agreed to talk to her. These are people who could either give her job, or refer her to others who could give her a job. No real response, though she is always friendly and warm with me. My idea is that she feels that things will work out, without really pounding the pavement to improve her position. She grew up in an upper middle class home and community, and basically unconsciously expects that pretty, well educated women from a "good background" will always be ok.

She plans to spend the remains of her divorce settlement on a skiing trip and lessons. As she explained, "I am young and want to do this while I can benefit from it."

I think she might do fine, if she realizes that her best opportunity may be in marketing herself to some 45 year old guy who is looking for a very sexy younger woman with a high class totally respectable background. Otherwise, she is approaching 40 without much to show other than a couple degrees and a lot of education loan debt. Approaching 40, negative net worth, no retirement plan. Not very good and she is far from being the only person in this pickle.

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Old 12-24-2012, 07:05 PM   #7
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The most clever and tuned in people from any generation are likely to do ok.
I guess I count myself among this group of clever and tuned in people since I seem to be profiting immensely during "these difficult economic times".

But most of my circle of friends and acquaintances from high school (class of '98) and college (class of 2001 and 2004) seem to be doing splendid as well. Of course a lot ended up in academia or medical practice of some sort - 2 areas that have been fairly recession-proof it seems.

The legal types from law school seem to be doing well overall, although many have taken non-BigLaw jobs, with many hanging their own shingle. Many more are working at BigLaw probably pulling in $150-200k/yr or more if they have made partner. Others have chosen lifestyle firms for less pay but way better quality of life.

A bunch of techie silicon valley type folks bounce around jobs a lot, but seem to land on their feet.

The types that seem to struggle are those without real marketable skills (artists, english majors, etc). But they enjoy their arts and work to live. I'm curious 10-15 years out of school how many would have chosen a different path (if they could).

Quote:
I agree with the overall attidude here- pull yourself up, work hard, etc. But this is only reality for some people. Even apparently sharp people can make some seemingly odd decisions. After all, attitudes are more or less normally distributed, just like intelligence, drive, etc. I know a well educated young woman, about 37 by now, with a Big 12 University education, 4 years of university athletics and letters, and a real daily attendence in class MBA. Plus she is knockout good looking. She has traveled all over the world, certainly knows how to act well, but as best I can tell, she has not yet ever had a full time fully professional position. To top off this lousy situation, she recently ditched her very successful hard working well employed husband. She accepted an oddly small settlemnt in cash, so no spousal support coming even though she was married for 12 years. I think she was just really tired of him and tired of the struggle of the divorce, so she bailed. I know him too, and compared to her he is deadly boring, but they were married apparently happily for many years. And he is fully employed and will likely continue to be employed until he wishes to retire. I think that if I had been her, this would have weighed pretty heavily in my decision of whether to stay or go.

A couple of times I offered to give her some contacts who agreed to talk to her. These are people who could either give her job, or refer her to others who could give her a job. No real response, though she is always friendly and warm with me. My idea is that she feels that things will work out, without really pounding the pavement to improve her position. She grew up in an upper middle class home and community, and basically unconsciously expects that pretty, well educated women from a "good background" will always be ok.

She plans to spend the remains of her divorce settlement on a skiing trip and lessons. As she explained, "I am young and want to do this while I can benefit from it."
I know a guy like this - similar education and more solid full time work history (still spotty) but unfortunately for him not female nor particularly good looking. I try to coach him on career a little but he doesn't really care to try particularly hard. His income from part time employment brings him $35-40k year in income which is just a little more than unemployment pays (he was on that for 2 years). It's enough to pay the mortgage, put good food on the table and have fun. He even manages to save $5000-6000 per year in case he hits hard times again and has to live off unemployment for another 2 year period (which he isn't particularly trying to avoid!). This guy knows about my ER plans but he's okay living in the now and getting by pretty easy without working too hard.


As for the OP's linked article - I'm just not buying it in general. Things may be tougher now than 15-20+ years ago, but in international terms we have it pretty good. We speak English here, so we lucked out and are fluent in the International Language of Business. You may be supervising or liaising with your team in Bangalore or Shenzhen or Singapore but you can still have a comfortable existence right here.
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:22 PM   #8
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The recession has been pretty good for me, although I was rather fortunate on timing and career choice. It definately wasn't easy street - I worked very hard to hone my skills so that I would stand out. The downturn had me worried, but those fears turned out to be unfounded. I now have more gray hair.

In conversations with various recruiters, unemployment for my field is <1% in my area.

My peers fall all over the spectrum, but most of them are doing equally well. Those that had problems taking ownership of their lives (let their parents choose what school/major, etc) feel lost and confused - generally with lots of student loans. People who weren't very interested in working now use the high unemployment shield. Some suddenly found themselves looking for new jobs, but most have found new work.

Fortunately, no one in my peer group found themselves starting a brand new career from scratch.
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:02 PM   #9
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I'd say that employment must turn up, and fairly soon, or we can look for problems.
I think high unemployment has gone on long enough already that we've already done quite a bit of serious damage to the careers and lives of many young people. If you graduate college and can't get a decent job in your chosen field for 3,4,5 years or more, and have to take any menial job to survive (as is the case for a whole lot of young people in this country), you are starting your adult life in a big hole, to say the least. The best case scenario is that you will be lucky and eventually get that job you had hoped for, and start making up lost ground, but for many others, they may never get that good job, and possibly never be able to catch up. It is really a tremendous waste of human lives and talent. Although I consider myself to be someone who always worked hard to achieve what I have, and I expect the same of my children, my generation (I am 57) did not face nearly the challenges that this Y generation is now facing. It is a different world now, and I feel for what they are going through.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:41 AM   #10
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Interesting responses so far. I read the following article tonight that provides a more optimistic economic outlook for the future:

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/ins...ranscript=true

Hopefully the author is correct with his analysis and predictions.
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Old 12-25-2012, 03:23 AM   #11
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I'm on the edge between Gen X and Y. My peers and I were flung into the working world in the late 90s or early 2000s, for those who went to college.

From what I can tell, most of my high school class is doing fine. We have a smattering of business owners, enlisted personnel, blue collar service workers, and engineers. Those of us who went off to state college (the group I am most in touch with) seem to be thriving, most of us are married, some have kids and some don't, we've been through two recessions, but it hasn't sunk us.

For the folks 10-15 years younger, the "true" Gen Y'ers, are things that different? College costs have risen, sure. But what else?

From my "experienced" age of 34, I have a hard time not seeing the main problem as the mentality of this new generation, arising from the way they were raised. Most of my peers worked a job during high school, and this seems less common. We were fairly "free range" compared to these carefully shepherded and "play dated" young people. We were fully adult at age 18, not relying upon our parents to fund us into our 20s. There has been a tremendous cultural shift in a short time.

When you have an entire generation brought up under controlled conditions, where little was demanded of them, you get a different result I think.

I may be out of line. But I really don't see a lack of opportunity. I see a generation of young people who are waiting for something to be handed to them. A job isn't a participation trophy. You don't get one just for showing up.

Sweeping generalizations are bogus of course. But that is the general picture I see behind the stories. It's not their fault they see the world this way, but a painful awakening is needed. Stop blaming the economy and start scrapping for the life you want.

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Old 12-25-2012, 06:08 AM   #12
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SIS, I agree with your assessment, but as a Gen X'er, I'm biased by seeing the incredible sense of entitlement of Gen Y as it appears in my interactions. I know two incredibly smart girls that just don't have the "launch skills" we had at that age to make things happen. They keep waiting for things to be done for them. And yes, sweeping generalizations are problematic, but as the Onion says "stereotypes are a real time-saver'
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:00 AM   #13
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:18 AM   #14
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SIS, I agree with your assessment, but as a Gen X'er, I'm biased by seeing the incredible sense of entitlement of Gen Y as it appears in my interactions. I know two incredibly smart girls that just don't have the "launch skills" we had at that age to make things happen. They keep waiting for things to be done for them. And yes, sweeping generalizations are problematic, but as the Onion says "stereotypes are a real time-saver'
Yes. GenXers were also called slackers because there was high inflation and interest rates working against their job hopes and many ended up underemployed. I'm sure all the GenYers in the article got signing bonuses as they started out in a booming job market.

The GenXers and boomers who were laid off are probably in the same straits as the GenYers.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:15 AM   #15
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Welcome to the world of the non-professional, both current and past.

Just because you have a degree does not guarantee you are going to get the life you expect even though you think you deserve it.

Unfortunately, I believe that the idea of going to a college/university has been oversold in this country, and in turn has set expectations for non-degreed positions of the past having minimum requirements of being a degreed indivudial in today's world. It also has led to the idea that you must get a degree, regardless if you (or your parents) can afford the cost.

Also, due to the financial burdens that the cost of college/universities today, I believe that it is a significiant reason why you have a lot of "failure to launch" situations.

But what do I know? I'm somewhat like Bill Gates (not as wealthy, of course). However we both did not complete college (although he did get an honorary doctorate in 2007) but we still were able to get by on our wits, rather than a piece of paper...
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:18 AM   #16
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Yep, I don't have a degree either. My kids would just say things are different now. Maybe.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:29 AM   #17
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Every generation wants to see the next one do better and I think in general they usually do. That said it still depending on the drive and work ethic of the individual. Opportunity still abounds just not in the same areas of the previous generations.
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:22 PM   #18
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Every generation wants to see the next one do better and I think in general they usually do. That said it still depending on the drive and work ethic of the individual. Opportunity still abounds just not in the same areas of the previous generations.
I can agree with that. I think as a general rule one if one is going to attend college it should be with a specific purpose leading to a definable skill that will result into an employable situation. My DD is determined not to follow that path. She is determined to get a degree in some type of art field. This is only my opinion, but I see this as a waste of time. At least she will not be in debt when she graduates, but I have told her that she will have to pay out of her own pocket the training it will take to learn her "barista skills" to be employed at Starbucks while her degree skills earn her nothing. I can't get her to understand how expensive life will be just to live a "simple middle class lifestyle". Her economic future concerns me, but it is her life....
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:32 PM   #19
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I don't know. I came of age in the early 1970's, and I never recall a time when we had enough jobs for the entire working age population. The difference back then is most of us would settle for whatever career we could get into, and we made that decision by age 25, and got on with our lives.

The difference I see today with Gen Y, is they've been told they were winners all of their life, and now they won't settle for anything less than a high end position in some glamorous field, of which they have a miniscule chance of obtaining. They keep the dream alive well into their 30's, often living at home, with full parental financial and moral support. There comes a time when you have to accept you're ordinary, and go about your life accordingly, without seeing yourself as a victim.
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Old 12-25-2012, 04:53 PM   #20
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..... I think as a general rule one if one is going to attend college it should be with a specific purpose leading to a definable skill that will result into an employable situation....
Agreed. This is the exact reason that my degree is in accounting. I wanted to be certain that I could find a job of some kind no matter where I lived. It's worked out okay thus far, and when accounting is the skill that makes your living, you can learn to like your work.
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