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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americanspirit's picture

Dear children - most of you were loved, cared for, educated and prepared for life as well as your parents could possibly manage. Dear parents - most of your children try hard to be good people, to do good work, to contribute to their community and to respect others as well as they can possibly manage.

So please be a little more thoughtful when you are looking around for who to blame for the mess we are all in. There are those who are actually to blame, and who deserve any retribution that can possibly be visited upon them. So how about we all stop blaming each other and go after the ones we know, for sure, are the source of most of the evil and suffering in our society. And by the way, those people are not defined by any ethnicity or religious affiliation - it is by their deeds ye shall know them.

SilverDOG's picture



Ideally stated, shall not be as such.

Please pass the Hopium.


One must start with themselves, and lead by example. 

WTF screams 310 million Americans. 2 million nod.

ConfederateH's picture

From a meritocracy to an affirmative action/reparations state in one generation.  And Obama is riding the wave of making the cracka's pay.  Just don't expect Generation Y to get past the hope and change and see what is happening.

Freddie's picture

Our dear mullah and his friends in TV and Hollywood doing "kill Whitey" movies.  If you watch TV or Hollywood's sh*t then you are helping them.   Murdoch (Fox) was one of the first to chime in that Americans need to be disarmed.  He is no friend of Americans.  TV and Hollywood are total sh*t.

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Smaller pie, less pieces. The South was right!

Chaos_Theory's picture

No worries.  The facade of a "Republic" will fall soon, as we pass the Rubicon and enter the full-fledged Empire stage.  Spoils of real war will keep the plebes entertained for a few years more as the patricians pick the economic bones clean of any and all meat. 

jplotinus's picture

Wait, posters. No need to remain divorced from reality and/or immersed in self deception.

Jobs are gone because of a variety of social and technical developments that eliminate them. At present, we are entering the next phase of job elimination with the nascent onset of 3-d print manufacturing. What previously required or permitted decently paid workers to do can now be done just as well or better by poorly paid workers or no workers at all.

We are, therefore, confronting a new social norm where our lives center less around working for a living and more about simply living.

We are basically confronting our presumptions about how life is to be lived. After all, if there are no jobs as, say, airline pilots because planes all become drones, then what is the point in defining one's success in life on the basis of whether a job search for a pilot job can be found? Answer: None at all.

It is quixotic to continue to carp, piss and moan, let alone blame the political persuasion you don't like to begin with, for jobs that are gone. Instead, the issue really is how to define livelihoods in a post industrial world? The lack of jobs is not the same as no need for activity in furtherance of common goals, sharing, working together, etc.

Thus, a need for leadership and for new thinking exists. That need is only partially addressed by calls for a constitutional convention. The constitution didn't advance or retard globalization or technology. But, globalization and technology did eliminate whole categories of jobs and/or broaden the base of qualified workers to a point where little could be paid for the necessary labor. This is an ongoing trend that will continue to cause jobs to disappear.

Life for most can get better without jobs, if we play our cards right.

GMadScientist's picture

The point in defining one's life on a pilot job search is the training to become a pilot that leaves one with the ability TO FLY.

Are you from Sweden?

koncaswatch's picture

If you're under 50 you will see pilotless commercial aviation in your lifetime.

Super Broccoli's picture

lol figured that out too,  i'm out of europe as soon i can :-)

Lets_Eat_Ben's picture

“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?


Well let's all of it. It's time for a new system. It's time for tabula rasa.

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Everyone should know the famous Beastie Boys lyric, "You've gotta fight, for your right, to party!"

Rebellion against established middle class values has long been co-opted by media and marketing.

"Partying" became a commercial version of this rebellion which was co-opted.

Since the rebellion is not only contained but utilized and turned into more consumption, it works out well.

Until such time that rebellion finally becomes more than virtual.

Turn on, tune in, drop out only works if you are already "in".

What happens when larger and larger numbers realize they are "out?"

Where is "freedom" found in this cycle?

Where is "self reliance?"



JR's picture

This data is true in spite of the source, Bloomberg. But it’s hard not to see the delight that the banking elite with its planned economy charletans bring to this equation – namely that the baby boomers need to make more sacrifices if the economy is to be saved.

These are the elements being brought by both parties to the fiscal cliff: Social Security will bankrupt the nation unless cuts are made.

As H.L. Mencken said in 1936 in the height of the Great Depression regarding FDR and his quacks, misfits and mountebanks “trained in no craft more respectable than that of cadging and spending other people’s money," if FDR “became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he so sorely needs, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House backyard.”

Had it not been for WWII, FDR and his Brain Trust that designed the 1930s’ Planned Economy, the “Utopia” executed by fools that blew, FDR would have been cast into oblivion along with the billions of tax money they wasted on the AAA, the WPA, and all the rest that returned millions to unemployment and the nation with massive deficits.

“Instead of safeguarding the hard-earned money of the people and relieving them from their appalling burden of taxation," said Mencken, "Dr. Roosevelt has thrown away billions to no useful end or purpose, and has piled up a debt that it will take generations to discharge.

“And instead of appointing conscientious and intelligent officials, he has saddled the country with a camorra of quarrelling crackpots, each bent only upon prospering his own brand of quackery and augmenting his own power.

“The blame for this dreadful burlesque of civilized government is to be laid at the door of the Hon. Mr. Roosevelt, and at his door alone.”

On the last point, the great H.L. Mencken was in error. Dr.Roosevelt was not the sole culprit; it was then as now the financial banking elite and the owners of the Federal Reserve. Some have compared Obama to Roosevelt. The comparison fits both as technicians serving the bankers. And now we have the Michael Bloomberg report; the ultimate banker propaganda voice and recipient of banker largesse.

FeralSerf's picture

Bankers, lawyers, stock brokers, real estate and insurance salesmen and last, but not least, bible thumpers:  The Other White Meat.

Dre4dwolf's picture

What do you expect when you let a bunch of sociopath bankers run everything? seriously.

Congress = Useless they have not done anything productive for the past 2 decades

House = Useless they have done more harm than good in the past 2 decades

President = permenantly on vacation

Central Bank = Printing Money to prop the dead horse up, so that a handful of people can make trillions off the collapse of society

General Public = Brain Dead Shopping Zombies

Everyone else?= Too broke to profit off the collapse they know is coming, but smart enough to survive *maybe

People getting out of college= Screwed for the most part, they wont earn enough to even move out.

F. Bastiat's picture

In a lot of ways, many of them voted for it. Ignorance may be bliss, but it has serious consequences.

Pareto's picture

And it will get worse, before it gets better for them.

F. Bastiat's picture

No doubt about it.  One of the main delusions of today's liberalism is the notion that consequences somehow magically don't exist. 

But they do.  And the Gods of the Copybook Headings always have their revenge.


"And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!" 

-Rudyard Kipling

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

It like a new dark ages.  Like before,  the kids had a harder and lower standerd of living then their parents and great grandparents during the Roman empire.


Shizzmoney's picture

And the men in the Senate, just like in the Roman Empire, are psuedo-pedophiles.

Shizzmoney's picture

This just in: Lawyers are really good at bullshitting.

yogibear's picture

Grad Lawyers need to sue all schools that promised a good salary and stuck them with the debt. Those that live by the sword die by it.

The graduate lawyers need to mobalize and hit all their schools with bankrupting lawsuits. It serves them right!

razorthin's picture

Y?  Because we love you!

SanOvaBeach's picture

I don't give a screaming flying about fuck about generation X, Y, Z, wee, wee!  Sucking-up all the SS, Medicare, and other beni's they well never see.  If your pissed, blame it on past administrations.  Gen xyz was still wearing diapers.  You don't like it!  Rise-up and tear it down you cry baby fucks.


We're a little more subtle up-thread. But, +100!

fuu's picture

Oh just STFU there John Kerry.

magnumpk's picture

Law schools have been lying about their job placement success for years.  Now unemployed law school grads hire lawyers to sue the lawyers that run the law schools. A self sustaining virtuous cycle of keynesian stimulus.

PGR88's picture

We are copying the laws and policies of places like France, Spain and Argentina - where youth unemployment is 20% or higher.


And we expect a different result?

sethstorm's picture

The problem is that you assume that the US doesn't have the resources or capability to perform extraordinary rendition of capital.

Once the US is willing to do so, expect the EU to follow suit to ensure no safe harbor.

NEOSERF's picture

Nearly six million factory jobs, almost a third of the entire manufacturing industry, have disappeared since 2000. And while many of these jobs were lost to competition with low-wage countries, even more vanished because of computer-driven machinery that can do the work of 10, or in some cases, 100 workers. Those jobs are not coming back,

Let's hope that Burma, North Korea or some African country steps up to the plate ready to exploit it's "workers" when paying $400/yr to a Chinese worker becomes prohibitively expensive to keep iphone market share increasing.  This sea change that started 20 years ago is over, consumerism is dying and it will take a couple smaller collapses as boomers retire and country debt causes such malinvestment or disinvestment in job creation that the cards finally fall.  Inflation is running at 9%+ in those things that people value requiring cutbacks in all but neccesities...even Apple will bow before this cycle probably in the coming year and certainly prior to 2015. 

JR's picture

America’s problem lies with the international globalists who have no loyalty to the working man or the nation, only to profits made from slave wages. Blinded by their stupidity and greed, they are destroying the current and future U.S. middle class, their consumer base.

In the final analysis, America’s problem is not manufacturing, it is the destructive influence on our private market economy by the international banking cartel using control of the currency to control all the nation’s industry and commerce. This emphasis on American labor as an expendable resource if cheaper and cheaper labor can be found elsewhere advances their worldwide cause to save Communism and its imperialistic slave system – with all the benefits going to the financial elites.

The globalists want an international, low-information, low-wage interchangeable work force that they can commandl in their banker-governed world plantation. That is why the globalists are displacing American workers with imported low-wage labor out of Mexico, instead of bringing better wages and working conditions to Mexicans in Mexico.

When the international bankers who own the Fed and the US Congress and Presidency are dangling at the end of a long rope from a tall tree, the American people will again be free

QQQBall's picture

Son worked for 6 months for free as an intern after graduating with master's Degree from Europe. They hired him at $42k to start plus bonuses. Not much dough living in Manhattan with a master's degree.  He could make 3x that working with me but doesnot like my business. We shall see, I tell him if he lives in the guest house and banks $100k a year and starts buying rental properties he can retire by 35 or 40 yo, but no go. I paid for his 6 years of schooling and intrenship time, so may be that gives him more flexibility than some?

Salon's picture

I thought that way too when I was younger. I would rather have a "professional" job that barely pays than make three times more but thought of as lower class

You will be an outcast in your peer group and the only girls interested in you will also be of that lower class too. Or bimbos.

For some making 100,000 per year as a tradesman/business owner is not worth being rejected by their college educated peer group and having to work and play in a blue collar culture cuz no one else will have you

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Glad to see you have your priorities straight. /sarc

Salon's picture

Lol. I said i used to think that way.

Just explaining the motive to the confused dad

the not so mighty maximiza's picture


Salon's picture

Gen Y just keep in mind that not all boomers and gen xers voted to rob future generations.

Not all of us are so financially illiterate or so selfishly entitled that we claim getting ten times more than we put in is "just getting what is owed us" from medicare and social security.

Some of us will help you burn it to the ground.

Magically Delicious's picture

We'll appreciate the help! :)

Salon's picture

Instructional booklets on flame throwing catapults and general pyromaniac mayhem.

Greek Fire-- it's what's for dinner

Magically Delicious's picture

Byzantine laws repealed using Byzantine weapons... change we can believe in?

sethstorm's picture

Kill offshoring, aggressively pursue repatriation/rendition to the US, and things can start returning back to better conditions.

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus's picture

Who would have thought that a generation of sociology majors, diversity admissions, and Ivy League legacies raised on video games, fast food, and vampire movies would have trouble finding meaningful, productive work.


Carthage, or at least Hollywood, must be destroyed, bitches.




Salon's picture

Lol. Yeah. What he said.

Especially about Carthage

shovelhead's picture

Hollywood, must be destroyed, bitches.


Someone try to tell you the Little Mermaid story was real?

NEOSERF's picture

So much for dreaming of being a stock-boy.  This ought to eliminate 1,000 jobs at the foodstores and another avenue to middleclass.  These on their own may not seem like much but are happening everyday.  Article two weeks ago in Boston about move to eliminate tolltakers altogether on the MassPike, which would be more applauded if tolls which were supposed to be eliminated after paying the Pike off 20 years ago happened.  But I digress, these kinds of low-no skill jobs are slowly being outsourced or technologically displaced and will make us look like Europe within a decade.  This was probably done to help keep food prices down and continue to "hide" the true cost of inflation which should have another category added to the calculation - "Government Weaned Citizens".

BOSTON (AP) — Food stores in Massachusetts will no longer be required to place individual price stickers on each item for sale in their shops.

A law taking effect on Jan. 1 allows shop owners to place price scanners throughout their stores. Customers can then use the scanners to determine the cost of each item.

The bill was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick earlier this year.

Store owners pushed for the new law, saying it would save them the expense of having to put stickers on everything in their shops.

But consumer advocates opposed the law. They say scanners can be unreliable, forcing consumers to play ‘‘guess the price’’ before heading to the checkout line.

SmittyinLA's picture

Could inflation drive computer processing?  

After "money" is eliminated as its too labor intensive to "adjust" every 10 seconds on real goods to mitigate currency debasement priting they'll switch to "electronic money" to mitigate debasement, but that will only push technology to get cheaper and cheaper to match our ever increasing currency debasement. 

Will our currency debasement ever exceed our computing adjustment power?