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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GMadScientist's picture

"Your stuff is shit...and my stuff!" - GC

e-recep's picture

i do need stuff to live in more comfort and security. what the fuck does happiness have anything to do with owning stuff??

mayhem_korner's picture



Where does the important stuff fit?

fuu's picture

You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

Being a hobo > being Jamie Dimon.

Freddie's picture

LOL!  But did Hobos have iPads and iPhone 5 back during the Depression and dustbowl?   Was a bowl of soup and a piece of bread like a new killer Twitter ap back during the Dust Bowl era?

WTF is it with these parents now?  They are helicopter parents for college students, pushing them to get more education (MAs, PhDs) in worthless subjects.  They let their kids get into more debt trying to fool themselves into thinking more edukayshun in useless majors/subjects will help them find a job in the Obam New Africs economy.

The kids crash and brun back to the couch or basement and the morons keep voting for the islamic.  The one with  sealed college records because he is an illiterate pot head.  What is with that sh*t? 

My guess is ma and pa today are still brainwashed by TV, Hollywood and the media.  Sick.

Everybodys All American's picture

It's time to call for a Constitutional Convention.


Topic 1. End the Fed.

Topic 2. Restore rule of law.

Topic 3. Term limits for Congress.

This would restore confidence and a real economy would then begin allowing prosperity for all once again.

LasVegasDave's picture

Topic 4.  Death penalty for lobbyists

SilverDOG's picture



Would be completely unnecessary... if you  know the Constitution.

Long-John-Silver's picture

All that would happen is the same kind of people that gave US the FED will enshrine the FED in the constitution and will completely eliminate themselves from the laws they create for the rest of US. Terms will be limited to life and direct descendents will fill them.

The only solution is preparation for the coming collapse and the ability to take advantage of it.

chubbar's picture

Exactly, the folks calling for a Con Con can't figure out that the assholes running the country 1). Don't follow the current constitution so why would they follow a new one and 2). The same group of folks that decided to allow the bank bailouts against the wishes of 70+% of the population will surely rewrite the consitution in order to fully legalize and enshrine their current activities regardless of what popular opinion calls for. We have nothing to gain from a new constitution and everything to lose.

GMadScientist's picture

"The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.  

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable."

r3phl0x's picture

So.. government regulating business.. leading to the most corrupt government that large businesses can buy..

Didn't we just try that?

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

You can split the hair many ways here.

I'd put it like this: what we have "just tried" is a "Satanic" system in which almost all of the consumerized people give most of their power over to corporate governance and financial governance, which has enabled some powerful growth in super-human corporate institutions, with interesting results.

Take away the Mammon worship and try to follow the letter of clearly-explained and faily-enforced laws such as that proposed amendment, and we would be "trying something new" altogether.

fuu's picture

"It's patriotism when our country needs us, plain and simple," he said."

I'm not sure he is aware of how mindfucked he is.

Banksters's picture

What he should be spouting is debt repudiation.   Fuck the war machine, fuck the fed, fuck their proxie banks,fuck the crony capitalists, fuck the super pacs, fuck the sock puppet  politicians, fuck the survelliance grid.  


In short, say no to slavery.

j0nx's picture

Fuck those clowns. They voted OVERWHELMINGLY for obungler and liberals in general. Let them discover a crash course in choices have consequences 101. Enjoy your lives gen y. Don't come begging to me for help until you get your heads out of your asses.

GMadScientist's picture

They'll remind you of that at the senior detention camp you're assigned to, by them.

CommunityStandard's picture

That's only if we don't eat you when the food runs out.  Long soilent green.

j0nx's picture

Yeah yeah. Molon labe gen y bitches.

Ricky Bobby's picture

Yes Yes - If I have something you need "Come Take It"

ElvisDog's picture

Gen-Y's wouldn't know how to start and complete a revolution. They're too soft and have too much expectation that the system works for them. Most revolutions occur after at least a generation of hardship and are run by people who are willing to sacrifice everything because their current lives are so hard. The oligarchs who run things have no fear of Gen-Y. They should fear Gen-Z or whatever comes after Gen-Z.

yrbmegr's picture

When they come to you, they won't be begging for help.

r3phl0x's picture

Hypothetically: who do you think will win when 2 average 65 year olds fight an average 30 year old for natural resources?

Real Estate Geek's picture

Old guys know they can't fight anymore.  So they'd just kill the 30 year old.

BlueStreet's picture

Generation Y is just creating a new base so that when generation Z comes along and does much better things will look fantastic. It's all about perspective.  


And for many other - a new different life is peeking through...

I know the answer. I'll join the military and get the GI grant. Money for nothing and my ejebecation for free. I'll have job skills when I get out for sure.

"Doctors have discovered an incurable brain disease evident in a large number of soldiers returning from war, and estimate that as many as 250,000 US troops are at risk of being ravaged by the disorder next."

CIA engineered virus deployed in Afgan territories infects the brain

I report. You decide.

GMadScientist's picture

Tragically self-correcting, if you read what the troops are going through.


Shizzmoney's picture

The GI grants don't cover the inflation of rising college costs (even for public universities).

On top of that, it used to be super-easy for military folk to get EMS/FD/PD/City Works jobs when they got out of the service and be at the top of the class.  Now?  They are stuck on the lists like everyone else, and get a little "nudge" from their service, instead of preference (as they should).

The reason is simple: these State jobs actually are some of the few left that provide a above average wage with secure benefits and pensions.  Since the private sector has used this shitty economy to destroy that for most of working America, the pools for these types of jobs have only risen, creating competition for the military folk. And, the private sector looks DOWN on military laborers because they view them as killers.

Also the older PD/FDs aren't retiring as quick as they used to; and are rejecting the buyout packages from State Governments to ensure the best chance of a full pension (b/c they know their kids ain't paying for their end of life care, unless they hit the lotto).

Also, most of these jobs require certifications that can only be "bought", ahem I mean, institutions and schools.  This takes time and money; most of which military people don't have.  For example, a Military Medic in Iraq can't get an EMT job because they don't have the certifications - but have the EXPERIENCE that these certifications validate because, you know, they have been EXECUTING TRIAGE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUCKING WAR!!!!!!!111

My dad gets out of 'Nam as a 6 year Army Private, his GI Grant covered his 2 year CJ degree, and he becomes a cop 3 years after the service. 

My buddy, a Marine with 2 tours under his belt, gets out of Iraq, gets a 99 on the civil service exam to become a firefighter, and he's STILL on a waiting list (2 years strong, he'll probably get called up next year when some boomer FDs retire).  In the meantime, he's a bouncer making minimum wage at a local bar. 

No wonder most of his buddies do multiple tours.  It's "secure" work!

fiftybagger's picture

Taking money from the government for ANYTHING is a HUGE mistake. Period. End of story.

r3phl0x's picture

No. Taking money from the government is incredibly smart. Depending on it is a HUGE mistake.

SilverDOG's picture




Not giving the govt any currency, is far more powerful than consuming from.

Break the cycle.

Make them fail completely

blunderdog's picture

Not like the CTE stuff is news, tho.  Obviously a LOT of folks come back from wars fucked up in the head, one way or another.  We've always known this.

But it's not all bad--given that we're not going to have jobs for most people, at least when their heads are broken we have a convenient excuse to keep them out of the workforce.  We'll need to come up with a better approach of dealing with inability to earn a living wage than just sending checks, but I don't think that should be an insurmountable problem.

Urban Redneck's picture

Graduates of American institutions of "higher learning" seem to suffer Chronic Overdiagnosis Disorder in alarming numbers.

blunderdog's picture

Sure, and if you pretend no one has any problems, you can feign total ignorance when the PTSD veteran without a job ends up in prison for a few years on assault charges.

Hopefully a decade in the slam is cheaper than a few years of therapy to help him deal with the shit he had to deal with in the field.

Urban Redneck's picture

War sucks, always has.  War doesn't suck any more now then it did a century ago.  If a higher percentage of soldiers are returning to civilization dysfunctional, then society needs to look at the inferior quality (and durability) of human beings it is producing and sending off to war, NOT INVENTING MORE BULLSHIT ACRONYMS FOR A PROBLEM AS OLD AS WARFARE ITSELF.

Even an ignoramus would have a difficult time maintaining ignorance of PTSD symptoms if they spent any time with a soldier, but the military bureaucracy is all about checking boxes on an official form relating to the THE LATEST BS ACRONYM memo'd down from the CO, and making the "issue" someone else's responsibility (CYA - instead of actually fixing the problem).

More "government" is not the solution for the problems of "government" in the first place.

blunderdog's picture

There are a lot more factors in play than JUST the fact that we mostly send inferior people to war today rather than 100 years ago.  We did have a standing draft for a very long time, so ALL combat-ready people were potential soldiers, unlike today's "all volunteer" army of poor, minorities, and poor minorities. 

A lot more folks died of their injuries a hundred years ago, too, now that I think about it.  Antibiotics and lifesaving technology has come a long way since WWI.

I'm getting the vibe that you oppose any kind of government support or care for veterans with disabilities following combat, but what do you think might be useful strategy for dealing with a bunch of damaged-goods trying to re-integrate into a society that has no use for them? 

Urban Redneck's picture

Exactly the opposite. 

The current system has sucked, does suck, and will to continue to suck, but I think that is the result of a focus on checking boxes and budgets, instead of fixing actual problems.

Here's a conundrum- In the middle of several simultaneous ongoing declared and undeclared wars how does a pencil dick dimwit like Shitsaki know how much money to request at the beginning of the year so that all his deputy pencil dicks at the VA can check all their required boxes in timely fashion?  And given that Shitsaki's shit-suckers INVARIABLY fail to even check all their damn boxes in a timely fashion EVERY YEAR, why do any of these clowns still have jobs?

The situation is another chinese-fire-drill-clusterfuck post deployment (before VA even becomes an issue).  Check the box on the central committee's one-size-fits-all official paperwork and you are off the hook for any future psychotic episode, but try to exercise any discretion/initiative/leadership and you can count on an entire platoon of senior pencil dicks knocking on your door- each with a ream of paper to ream you with while they dutifully check boxes till hell freezes over.

The problems will not be comprehensibly addressed unless and until authority is decentralized and devolved, and central administrative cancer is dismantled.  The solution is less "efficient" and more expensive, but more importantly- it is more effective.


blunderdog's picture

I personally advocate for just smashing the state and eliminating the whole problem of international warfare.  Sure, there'll still be all kinds of conflicts, but at least the damage will be done primarily to the parties that want to fight with each other for whatever the grievance...the rest of us can be left out of it.

Urban Redneck's picture

The commander of an otherwise comic brigade of powerpoint rangers has also mastered the art of Bullshit Bingo-

By leveraging 21st century technology and empowered by a dedicated workforce, over one-third of whom are Veterans themselves, VA is boldly transforming itself in healthcare and benefits delivery, and in memorial affairs, to better serve all Veterans. Our goals remain unchanged: increase access to VA benefits and services; eliminate the backlog in compensation claims in 2015; and end Veterans' homelessness, as well, in 2015.

Hoover was supposedly cutting the red tape when the was VA formed in 1930, the arrival of the Bonus Army a couple years later should have been a sign that all was not going according to plan, or the actual plan was not as advertised to the veterans...

blunderdog's picture

The somewhat "touchy-feely" solution is to put a great deal more power in the hands of the care-providers.  It doesn't take more than a few hours to assess just what level of "care" a person needs in the short-term. 

We just have to formally own up to the fact that LOTS of folks come back from shitstorms with no visible scars and major problems they need real help with. 

That "help" shouldn't be thought of as $X00/hour therapy (which is a result of the spreadsheets and checkboxes), but as some personal, honest, and well-intentioned TIME provided by people who actually CARE.  There's a dollar-value you can figure if you must, but what really ought to be prioritized is delivering some assistance that WORKS.

Cathartes Aura's picture

biowarfare, blowback. . . working as intended.

best pay attention, as this "war" can be played anywhere, any time.

nicoacademia's picture

time to load up that van and take from those who have.

mayhem_korner's picture



Take what?  Stuff that neither needs?

GMadScientist's picture

What the fuck am I gonna do with Romney's showhorse?!

(in the industry, they call this "tee ball")

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

Maybe horses will be best friends to us, and us to them.

Maybe. I know not. But I do know they are intelligent, physically powerful, and sensitive.

And if we enter a worse Age (à la David Brin's The Postman) due to Peak Oil Doom being real or due to our inability to simply get our act together in a world in which Peak Oil Doom is not real, then I would much rather have Romney's show-horse than nothing, and much rather have it than let him have it.

Unless Romney's showhorse is the seat of an ancient, evil soul. Then, let's just lock it up.

SilverDOG's picture

Horses intelligent !?

Bwah haaa haa haaa.