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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mkkby's picture

You must have a PhD to be that stupid.  After WWII there were lots of jobs selling into A DESTROYED FUCKING WORLD that needed everything.  Where you got this psycho babble I'll never know.

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.


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

Nehweh Gahnin's picture

Great aphorism NoDebt, and I hear it translates into Arabic, too.  (My father rode a camel...)

Silver Bully's picture

"WW II generation, Boomers, and...."

You forgot the Silent Generation. First you had the G.I. Generation, then the Silent Generation, then the Boomers. Yep, looks like we're right on track.

tmosley's picture

The "greatest generation" was nothing but bankster puppies.  They fought their wars for them without question, and allowed their nation's money to be corrupted, co-opted, and finally stolen right out from under their noses.  They valued jingoism over patriotism.  The baby boomers had no choice.  They tried to rebel, but they embraced the wrong ideology.  The principles of the free market had been twisted by the preceeding generation, and still appeared to give abundant fruit, rather than disclosing the truth--they were consuming the seed corn.  

It's time to return to free banking and free markets.

TheSilverJournal's picture

Free markets and capitalism can't exist without free banking. Money is 1/2 of every transaction.

TruthInSunshine's picture

When a majority or even significant plurality of the sheople realize that multi-colored fiat paper (and its electronic equivalent) has a real worth that actually relates to its inherent value & the actual (endless/bottomless) volume of supply, it will be as interesting as it always has been, historically speaking.

Magically Delicious's picture

Well said.  The boomers didn't create the welfare-warfare state we have now, the "greatest generation" did.

ElvisDog's picture

I know enough of a sample size to say that the only concern of the "greatest generation" with regards to the fiscal cliff is that no one touches their medical benefits. Any comments that 9% growth in federal medical expenditures is unsustainable falls on deaf ears. They don't give a shit for any generation after them if that jeopardizes their $400 monthly prescription drug bill and that hip replacement they have scheduled for next year.

flattrader's picture

Tea Party fucks wrecked a very good opportunity to cut Medicare costs and give people an opportunity to decide just how much pointless health care they wanted at the end of life.

>>>The town's biggest hospital, Gundersen Lutheran, has long been a pioneer in ensuring that the care provided to patients in their final months complies with their wishes. More recently, it has taken the lead in seeking to have Medicare compensate physicians for advising patients on end-of-life planning.

The hospital got its wish this spring when House Democrats inserted that provision into their health-care reform bill -- only to see former Alaska governor Sarah Palin seize on it as she warned about "death panels" that would deny care to the elderly and the disabled. Despite widespread debunking, those warnings have led lawmakers to say they will drop the provision.<<<

Initially it was propsed by a Republican.

“We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly,’’ Grassley said. “Maybe others can defend a bill like the [House] bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t.’’

However, other Republicans, including Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Johnny Isakson of Georgia - who sponsored similar legislation - have said Palin’s claim was hurting the party’s attempts to influence the bill.

Portions of the Democratic health care bills “are bad enough that we don’t need to be making things up,’’ Murkowski said, repeating a phrase Palin used last month when announcing her resignation as Alaska’s governor, when she asked the news media to “quit making things up.’’

Isakson said it was “nuts’’ to claim the bill encourages euthanasia.

AynRandFan's picture

How much health care do you want at your end of life?  Counseling people to give up on life is wrong.

Most states have a law that makes it illegal for counselors to advise in favor of divorce.  But, you want a law that encourages people to die.

flattrader's picture

You are an idiot.

Advising and assisting patients to fill out an advanced directive/health care POA when they are well and in full control of their faculties was the point of the new provision.

Tea Party fucks painted it just like you did...pulling the plug on Granny.

>>>How much health care do you want at your end of life?  Counseling people to give up on life is wrong.<<<

The issue is how much pointless care do you want at the end of life?  And if you haven't thought it through and left legally binding instructions, others may make the decisions for being hooked up to tubes in an IC Unit and tortured to get a few extra weeks, days or hours when pallative hospice care would have been less intrusive, more humane and preferable...had you only been presented with the option while you were well.

>>>Counseling people to give up on life is wrong.<<<

Go pedal your religious crap somewhere else.

WillyGroper's picture

ARF, ARF is just another who thinks they'll get outta here alive. 

Had a friend who's mother died just b4 Xmas. I was edumacated on another lock you in twist in our beloved health care industrial complex. 

If her mother refused to be admitted to the hospital against the directing physicians orders, insurance would not pay. You'd think they'd clamor to save a buck. Once you're in the system, it's like a prison & you'd be well advised to have your HIPPA in order. 

flattrader's picture

>>>If her mother refused to be admitted to the hospital against the directing physicians orders, insurance would not pay.<<<

You mean they would not allow her to opt for hospice care in home or some other location?

I would like some details on where this happened, what hospital, which insurer etc...

There are some time limits regarding re-enrollment in hospice care, if you had previously enrolled in hospice and then withdrew for some reason.

I have never heard of anyone being prevented from enrolling or being forced to persue medical care versus hospice care at end of life.


She may not have been in one of the 44 states and DC where hospice is covered under Medicaid? Or had lousy insurance?

Myth: A patient needs Medicare or Medicaid to afford hospice services.
Although insurance coverage for hospice is available through Medicare and in 44 states and the District of Columbia under Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations include hospice care as a benefit. In addition, through community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts, many hospices are able to provide patients who lack sufficient payment with free services. Other programs charge patients in accordance with their ability to pay.


WillyGroper's picture

IMO, she should have been in hospice. But it was her decision to try any & all treatment afforded her. A very strong will to live. Therein lies the catch. This was with HIPPA & durable power of atty papers in order. 

flattrader's picture

Wow.  Usually people who bother with HIPPA and a durable POA have a more realistic view of active or agressive medical treatment if they are terminally or chronically ill.

Some people can't face death...On a long enough time...

SilverDOG's picture



The boomers were led to there choices, as those before. To think or state otherwise is

hilarious. Once a sheep, always a sheep.

Snakeeyes's picture

My father-in-law, an alleged Republican, voted for Obama because he beleived that Romney would cut Medicare (although Obama already had). He was a WWII vet but all of his family votes for unafforable safety nets. Why? Because Paul Krugman said it isn't an issue!!!!!

Freddie's picture

A distant in-law relative voted for mullah too.  He was union and dumb as dirt.  If the union told him white people were evil and he is white, he would believe it.   Stupid robot and he is proud of being union ignorant.

The Dems, TV and Hollywood are on the evil white sh*t 24x7.  I stopped watching their sh*t years ago.

ElvisDog's picture

Smithsonian magazine has a cover story this month on whether people are genetically pre-disposed to be "evil". The baby on the cover is a white boy. Can you imagine the outrage if their cover baby had been black/latino/asian? Enough said.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Another good read in this issue of Smithsonian is the interview with Jaron Lanier.

Freddie's picture

This is why, years ago, I cut out TV, Hollywood, magazines, newspapers or any other media plus the sports crap like NFL.  I will pay zero for any of their sh*t and avoid all of it. 

This is really big with the Madison Ave ad agencies.   The TV commercials are the worst offenders.  Advertisers like Fed Ex and many others especially anything in a corporate environment.

The dumb person is always the white guy.  Always.  Once in a blue moon it might be an asian guy.  Never ever will it be a woman of color looking like the fool in the ads.  The criminal breaking in the house in the alarm ad or AllState commercials - white guy.   It is all full on propaganda.  Ditto in movies.  I watch nothing but did see a sci fi movie at a friends house.  The bad or weak guys were white.  

Slightly Insane's picture

I love to be the target of "propaganda", as it is proof that not only am I interesting, but that "I'm right", and of course "blanco"

mkkby's picture

You haven't watched TV in years, yet you always know all about it.

Your comments are repetitive and stupid unless you are 12.  It used to be all the criminals and idiots were played by black actors.  Just watch a few older movies and TV shows.   Just for research.  Starting in the 60s black groups started protesting and boycotting.  That's why it's white actors now.  It's non-offensive to minorities. 

But you stick with your tin foil conspiracies because you have neither the history nor the intelligence to understand.

SilverDOG's picture



A gesture of truth.

How many serial killers were NOT crackers?

We the whiteys, kill kill kill.


Shell Game's picture

I have relatives and close friends who are highly intelligent and voted for 'Oh'.  Two observations - a highly complex monetary system can fool anyone, independent of IQ, and, participation in the 'two party' sham and the support of perceived lesser evils is also independent of IQ.


It is the rebelious spirit that questions authority who is the revealer of truth and the breaker of chains....

Freddie's picture

Define highly intelligent?  They are clueless f***tards. 


SilverDOG's picture

Highly programmed, not "clueless f***tards" is the result.


Freddie's picture

Hope & Change bitchez!   You voted for it kiddies. 

Not that the RINO Rove/Bush/Romney/NWO alternative is much better.  Sort of like voting for Dante's Inferno Hell or voting to live in New Jersey.  The kiddies love their hipster Allah. 

AgAu_man's picture

I agree. But what does that say about the "greatest" generation?

ToNYC's picture

Gen-Y just had the misfortune of getting to the beggar-thy-neighbor buffet when the check came due. 

Slightly Insane's picture

You may be correct .... then I also suppose that when the dust settles, there will inevitably be fewer members of that generation (Boomers)

Tommy Gunner's picture

Go out and buy a Glock at the 711 then waste your parents and grandparents.  These greedy bastards are responsible for what awaits you - dumpster diving out back of Burger King.

akak's picture

Hey, it seems to work well enough for the gulls and ravens right now ...

happycrow's picture

Irony is, all us cynical Gen-X bastards actually more or less managed okay for ourselves.  Not in comparison to people who got to earn REAL money, mind you, but enough that clawing our way into the middle class where one layoff wouldn't destroy our families was still a possibility given effort and patience.

I don't know WHAT to tell Y and the Milennials; it's too late for anything we could say to make a difference.

ultraticum's picture

The last paragraph says it all.

SafelyGraze's picture

all-your-possessions-in-the-back-of-your-truck = shadow housing inventory

Chaos_Theory's picture

New revenue stream for the vampires...add a property tax bill to that truck!

wisefool's picture

This will be the path of the GenY'ers. As mentioned before, the boomers tried to rebel from the naivete of the greatest generation, and adopted free love and credit. (they work well together, all those 2nd,3rd, 4th Marriage McMansion wedding gifts)

GenY is going to rebel by inventing even more complex taxation models. What else can you do with a worthless degree? Its the other half of the money spiggot the similarly educated banksters run.

ElvisDog's picture

The problem with the living-in-the-back-of-truck lifestyle is that might work when you're in your 20's, but it's not going to work so well when you reach your 40's, 50's, 60's.

SafelyGraze's picture

40s 50s 60s = second-hand trailer

don't knock it. we've been glad to have something that keeps the rain out (mostly).

and would it kill you to stop by once in a while? my, you've grown!


Cathartes Aura's picture

moving from place to space repeatedly also benefits the land-lords, who charge you for "credit checks" as well as demand large up front "deposits" that they can whittle down over time. . . locking one into "leases" that, when broken due to needing to move towards the next income source, default the agreement into claiming the deposit, irrespective of circumstances - rinse, repeat, NEXT!  more money made. . .

always a leech on the ass of every supposed "solution" out there, rentier class parasites.

pashley1411's picture

I think the 21st century will be a time of great mobility.   With an international business culture and language, the opportunity cost of not taking your skill set to business-friendly ethernet jack will be too glaring to ignore.  

Magically Delicious's picture

Well said.  Millennials might actually benefit from being unable to afford houses and traditional careers.

Cathartes Aura's picture

. . . and children, families.

no loyalties except to yer own income stream. . .

SmoothCoolSmoke's picture

My favorite BS line is from Corporate America:  "We need more (hard) science graduates so we can compete globally"

Tell that to all the (hard) science grads, with great grades, of 2012 still looking work....they ain't hard to find.

Shizzmoney's picture

I think when "Corporate America" goes on the news and to the press and say, "We have a skills gap", I think that is Corporatese for "We need to find a way for these American engineers, manufacturer laborers, and scientists to accept Chinese niggard wages."

I can't wait for when the US is taken over by a Private Equity Group.

Go Tribe's picture

I can't wait for the Corporates and Politicians to lose their personal bodyguards so we can have at 'em. It'll be cool watching mansions burn.

Uncle Remus's picture

"I can't wait for when the US is taken over by a Private Equity Group."


Federal Reserve.

DaveyJones's picture

I never knew steamed milk was a hard science.