Generation Y Wakes Up From The American Dream, Faces An American Nightmare

Tyler Durden's picture

Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. We have noted a number of times that these divides are growing and warned of the social tension this could create and, as Bloomberg notes, it does not appear to be getting any better, Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. "This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life - and at least the next 10 years," as middle-income jobs are disappearing. A 2009 law school graduate sums it up rather succinctly: "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."


Via Bloomberg:

Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. Average incomes for individuals ages 25 to 34 have fallen 8 percent, double the adult population’s total drop, since the recession began in December 2007. Their unemployment rate remains stuck one-half to 1 percentage point above the national figure.


Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation’s younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history.

which is leading to an increasingly disenfranchised generation:

“This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life -- and at least the next 10 years,” says Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow at the university’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Professionals who start out in jobs other than their first choice tend to stay on the alternative path, earning less than they would have otherwise while becoming less likely to start over again later in preferred fields, Zukin says.




Only one-fifth of those who graduated college since 2006 expect greater success than their parents, a Rutgers survey found earlier this year. Little more than half were working full time. Just one in five said their job put them on a career path.

As the dream fades:

“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,” says 2009 law school graduate Elizabeth Hallock, 33. “It was pretty naïve on my part.

And fingers are pointed:

Hallock is the named plaintiff in one of 14 lawsuits against some of the nation’s best-known law schools, including her alma mater, the University of San Francisco School of Law. The civil complaints, filed in 2011 and 2012, accuse the institutions of overstating graduates’ job-placement results and incomes.


Young Americans are struggling to reconcile their lack of economic rewards with their relatively privileged upbringings by Baby Boomer parents and the material success of their older peers, Generation X, born in the late 1960s and 1970s...

But whose fault is it?

“It’s a generation that had really high expectations, in some part driven by the way they were raised by their boomer parents,” she says. “Yet in the past five years they have had reality slammed in their face by the employment situation.”


The same housing crash that hammered young architects and loan officers also slammed lawyers. Law schools are turning out about 45,000 degree holders a year for about 25,000 full-time positions available to them, according to the National Association for Law Placement Inc. in Washington. The class of 2011 had the lowest placement with law firms, 49.5 percent, in 36 years.


“It is not the perfect path to wealth and success that people may have envisioned,” says Robin Sparkman, editor in chief of The American Lawyer magazine in New York.

Which is leading to lawsuits - by the new lawyers against their schools...

“It’s hard to look at the information the schools were putting out and say it’s not misleading,” says Derek Tokaz, research director of the nonprofit Law School Transparency initiative. It published research showing that the chance of recent graduates getting permanent full-time work in law was far lower than the 80-95 percent total employment rates the schools typically boasted.

But for some - a new different life is peeking through...

“As it is, all of my possessions still fit in the back of my truck,” she says. “I can pack it in a couple hours, pick up the trailer and horses and move anywhere the gas tank will take me at the drop of a hat. What can the system take away from you when you have that kind of freedom?

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YomptonOH10's picture

This is easy to figure out.  When you live in a country that allows people to take a dollar saved and lend it out frac. reserve style making 100 new ones.  Than it's obvious where all the money is going to go, not to skilled trades....It's the FIRE economy baby!  Where you too can turn in that blue collar for white one and peddle Federally mandated insurance from via the Gov't Employee Insurance Company. Oh wait, nevermind, Berk Hath bought that out and uses computers to make all the quotes and modify the policies.  NO WORK FOR YOU Bitchez!!!!

machinegear's picture

Adam's article is spot on. After being laid off from a computer tech job, a friend of mine went back to school to become a robotics engineer. The trade is an extremely complex mix of metal working, robotics, and computer coding; definitely not suited for the common joe. He graduates in the spring. John Deere has already offered him a job to build tractors that have a MSRP of $269k. The job pays around $35k/year. I couldn't believe it.  

Imminent Crucible's picture

It can be worse than that. My old buddy, a middle manager for Continental Airlines, told me that their Continental Express pilots get paid around $17k a year. To fly commercial airliners (Embraer RJ-145, etc). They do it because it's their only hope of getting a chance at a "real" pilot job.

TruthInSunshine's picture

That's true, at least according to an article published in a widely distributed main and lame ass stream media rag that I can't find the link to at the moment.

Many pilots flying regional turboprops and even jets make around 20k a year. I couldn't believe it when I read it...

mkkby's picture

Extremely complex or not, the low wage proves there's a glut of them.  The junior colleges are cranking them out, and poor suckers like your friend are getting fleeced.  DO NOT go into a profession serviced by these junior college scam artists.  Find a niche that's not well publicized.

duo's picture

$18 bucks an hour to run a half million-dollar machine, after years of experience?  If he wants to pay Chinese wages, he should move his operation to China.  Wait, I bet he did that, and between quality, logistics, and payoffs he had to make to keep his factory going, he moved it back.

There was such thing as supply and demand that determined the price of labor.  I guess when the manufacturing industry is small enough, the remaining companies can conspire to keep wages low.

I'll bet if he did offer $30/hour for experienced help, he'd find qualified people, and it would be cheaper for him in the long run.

Water Is Wet's picture


Dude, 2001 called.  We've been at war for the last 11+ years (conservatively).  And don't give me that shit about "that's not a REAL war... just wait 'til the next one!"

flattrader's picture

Sonny, this ain't a real war.  There's no Draft.

This is a private security action courtesy of GWB and and started for his friends in the energy industry.

Don't be confused.

Cathartes Aura's picture

if the private contractor's "war" was acknowledged as "real" then whoever sits in the nation-all figurehead seat would lose a lot of the power wielded currently. . .

if they ever declare "war" begin the countdown.

prains's picture

It's actually a global nightmare that has finally come to the USA

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus's picture


"The prospect of war with Iran was conceivable in 2006, but hardly imminent: we here at were well aware of the long-term goals of the War Party in this respect, but hardcore anti-interventionist circles – not so much. Of course, everyone in the foreign policy community was well aware of AIPAC’s relentless propaganda campaign, which presaged much of the open warmongering to come. However, at that point we were still in the midst of the neoconsdisastrous war in Iraq – which Kristol & Co. had been ginning up for years – and hardly anybody anticipated their future war plans.


This isn’t about Chuck Hagel, a man admired by his colleagues in the Senate, whose military experience and record of judicious independent thought more than qualifies him to head up the Pentagon: it’s about whether we are going to start World War III. It’s about whether a gaggle of discredited ideologues, in alliance with a powerful lobbying group openly serving the interests of a foreign government, is going to be allowed to take us into a war certain to devastate the region, drive us further into bankruptcy, and cause untold human suffering. "



Gentlemen, please consider sgning the petition referenced therein, and telling whereof thy associates and comrades of like mind.

escargot's picture


Mr. Magoo's picture

The only option left, considering also the Globalists are telling us that we have GEN X, GEN Y and the last letter GEN Z which is the end of the alphabet and exactly what will happen when WW3 which has already started will escalate then their Georgia Guide stones will be fulfilled by wiping out 90% of the population

ronaldawg's picture

Nope - legalized Marijuana solves everything.

Gov't gets more and more taxes.

Gen Y muppets won't notice the higher taxes to pay boomer's pensions and their lower pay (e.g. their SLAVERY).

Problem solved.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

I once read about a fellow whose thesis was related (not identical):

In my opinion, we should have had a bit more discussion on the idea than we got from the MSM.

drbill's picture

Soma is already here. It just has many names now. Zoloft, Prozac, etc.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

Hi CH1, I remember a lot of your comments (you've always been pretty smart or right-on).

I never quite understood the anarchy thing though.

But, of late, after seeing the many conspiracies in the world, I see how wise anarchy is as an option to keep handy. Especially when our media (television and internet architecture corporations)-provided choices seems to be esoteric Fascism or esoteric Communism -- or Poker Chip Libertarian Fascism versus Corporate Feudal Collectivism -- or make up whatever terms and words fit best.

There are thorny, wicked conspiracies at essentially all possible levels of trust and power in government. (Exceptions may be said to prove the rule.)

("You don't need to find a needle in the haystack when it comes to corruption -- you're looking at a STACK OF NEEDLES already and you just don't know it...")

("No one knows how to get out of the mess because no one sees the mess for what it is.")

Let me drop this here, I've been working on it for awhile, even as it remains an opera aperta. I see many problems at many levels, but I rate our money system and our sovereign "crown" conspiracies as the first things that will have to halt (one day at a time) if the people are to ever evaluate anything in light of hidden facts:

I support, at this time, a sort of philosophical or metaphysical anarchism (which seems to logically then entail political anarchism), as well as non-violence (with violence as a last resort for each man to decide himself -- hopefully his community or his ethics keep him from going spree-killer, or "anarchy-in-the-UK!!" robber pirate).

The Constitution may be just another game for the Crown lawyers to play with, but it's also a good starting point. Edwin Vieira and I agree about a lot of stuff too.

It's all about responsibility, people. We all have great power. Use it responsibly.

CH1's picture

I remember a lot of your comments (you've always been pretty smart or right-on).

Thanks. :)

Nehweh Gahnin's picture

Philosophical/metaphysical anarchism?  Does that mean you really don't have to do it, just think about it?  And for those who have truly embraced anarchist tenets, enough with the "spree-killer" and "robber pirate" crap.

I thumbed UP your post, but you have some more learning to do.  Violence (or non-violence) are tactics, not beliefs.  The focus needs to be on personal accountability, dignity and respect for others, and strength of convictions.  Illegitimate force can be resisted (your oblique reference to self defense doesn't quite cover it), as can any unjustified and unwelcomed attempt to impose one's will upon me.  Which is really the same thing.  If you make a rule I have not agreed upon, and then if you need a gun to make me follow that rule, your rule is a priori illegitimate.

Anarchism is not "an option to keep handy."  Learn it, or don't.  Practice it, or don't.  Merry pranksters calling themselves anarchists while they waffle and debate about violence and non-violence are giving the paradigm a bad name.  It's not about violence.  It is about what you need to make your portion of the world right and good, and for that, you do what you need to do.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

I allow for other people to not have to be anarchists. Do you?

This is an honest question.

I just want people to not be so enslaven to falsely-limited numbers of choices.

(the human mind and our physical, earthly infrastructures aren't going to change to anarachist utopia quickly)

(I'm not making any rules for you, and I acknowledge that arms lead to arms races, even as gun rights are crucial right now.)

(My recommendations are more for a one-day-a-time way of thinking than of creating a perfect world order.)

Perfect is the enemy of good.

Husk-Erzulie's picture

It starts with thinking about anarchy, next thing ya know yer a chucking bombs.  Slippery slope dude.  For gods sake don't think; just come back to the sheepfold before you get hurt.... LOL

Shizzmoney's picture

Actually, the iDistractions have actually woken up many in my generation as their access to read sites like this has informed us to what is really going on.

However, many are still FAR behind on what's actually happening, how the income situation (which seems to be reported everyday on not just this site, but many others) is deteriorating, as well as the distancing between class divides.

The question is, how do we change this WITHOUT random violence?  I still struggle to find an answer.

CH1's picture

how do we change this WITHOUT random violence?  I still struggle to find an answer.

Well, I don't think we can prevent violence entirely; that's just the current state of the world.

The best choice, IMO, is simply to stop supporting the system and let it fall of its own dead weight. No rulers can continue if a serious number of people stop obeying them.

Not only is ignoring the rulers non-violent, but it works FAR BETTER than the usual 'revolution' scenario. Governments are designed for violence and respond to it very well, but they fall when people see them as unnecessary and immoral.

Shizzmoney's picture

Governments are designed for violence and respond to it very well, but they fall when people see them as unnecessary and immoral.


Focused violence

These two should do the trick.

Nehweh Gahnin's picture

Opting out is considered violence by TPTB, and will be met with violence.  Try not paying your taxes.

r3phl0x's picture

It's quite easy: stop productive work, and take more than you put in, via social security, welfare, medicare, ...

ElvisDog's picture

And yet your generation continues to support and vote for the Democratic party who are actively working (along with the Red team to be sure) to ensure your low wage/no prospects future. You had a chance to swing the vote to Ron Paul in the Republican primaries just as the 20-somethings flocked to Obama in 2008. And yet we got Obomney verson Rombama to choose from.

pods's picture

I like the ideas that Ron Paul espouses, but if we are to be realistic, the problem is much bigger than any one man can solve. I actually like it that way. If one man could solve our problems, then we would have even bigger problems.  If power was concentrated enough that one man could turn it around, I would shudder to see the tyranny around me.

As it is now, the SYSTEM is the enemy.  The players are merely small, if not widely seen, parts of it.

Our system of expansion (debt money issued at interest) is a very difficult thing to grasp, conceptually, as the root of our problem.

Most people are incapable of actually finding out the root cause of a problem. Hell, I could be wrong with our debt money/fractional reserve currency cause.

But at least by getting fed up with the system, and withdrawing as best as we can, is the actual solution to the problem.

The system will collapse on its own without a shot being fired.  

All we need to do is to have the courage to stop creating debt.  



Shizzmoney's picture

This problem is bigger than one man.  And, as the US will eventually learn, one Empire.

The revolution will not be televised.  It will, however, will probably be on

Cathartes Aura's picture

humans hooked on the search for a "father figure" to take care of them, be it religiously or via the .gov-proxy-dad are what keeps this much talked about "revolution" from even beginning. . .

no old white guy is gonna save you - time to grow up and accept full response-ability.

Go Tribe's picture

Chinese and Indian students laugh at these poor fuckers.

Fredo Corleone's picture

...And juice at $4 per gallon. +1, redpill.

Come to think of it, the Feral Kid must be in his 30's by now. Wonder if he still has that steel boomerang ?

Chuck Walla's picture




NoDebt's picture

My Grandfather, a depression-era guy, told me a long time ago about the "3rd generation curse."  Goes like this:  First generation works their fingers to the bone starting something, Second generation gets rich off of it, Third generation burns it to the ground and fritters away all the money.

WW II generation, Boomers, and..... yep, looks like we're right on track.


Winston Churchill's picture

Clogs to clogs in three generations is a very old saying.

Shizzmoney's picture

I hope my generation burns this shit to the ground, we'd finally prove we can grow a pair.

But your grandfather is so right.  The boomers really sold us a reality that never existed, and it probably took us way to long to wake up before it goes to ruins.

Salon's picture

Everybody wins in the largest credit expansion history has ever seen.

At least those who get to live in its time frame

koncaswatch's picture


The phsycological relationship to the term "credit" fostered the consumerism that led many of us to beleive anything is possible with a little education and hard work. The reality is that the proper term is "debt expansion" and now the piper is expecting to be paid.

Imminent Crucible's picture

How 'bout we just stiff the piper, same as we stiffed everyone else and got stiffed in return.

Remember, "The first one to default wins."

NotApplicable's picture

Burn away. When you've finished, the only thing you'll find left is trap of dependency created by the banksters. Believe me, they will fully apprecrieate your efforts at destroying their competition, empowered by your "pair."

Ever heard of the oldest trick in the book? It's called, "Let's you and him fight!" (World Wars, anyone?)

Your only hope is to learn to evade and avoid traps. Anything less is merely a new game, which you won't recognize as such, until it's too late.

(World's Oldest Xer)

Tippoo Sultan's picture

I would submit that the fortunes of the "forty-something" direct offspring of the "Boomer" group -- "Generation X" -- are but marginally better than their "thirty-something" peers.

NotApplicable's picture

We got jobs! W00t! (and some, the facade of a pension)

cornflakesdisease's picture

First generation men come back from war will moral, spiritual, and emotional values trashed out and wrecked by their experiences and become emotionally unplugged.  Live for today because you could be dead tommorrow.


Their children inturn seek to fill in all the emotional emprtiness by Dad being disconected by pursuing material goods and emotional highs (sex, fun, vacation, big car) etc.  Anything to fill in the holes.


Their children in turn grow up in the wreckage of that vacuum and failed pursuits and are !@#$% all up by debt laden parents, divorce, no spiritual guide, no moral guides etc etc.


Technoogy changes, but people do not nor do their emotional needs.