Millennials Increasingly Believe The American Dream "Is Not Really Alive"

If you’re a millennial, you’d be forgiven for being disillusioned with the American dream. 

After all, there’s a good chance you just found out that the college degree you paid $35,000 (or more) for isn’t worth much in today’s labor market. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a full-time job that doesn’t involve serving Jager shots at three in the morning, your wages aren’t likely to keep up with the soaring cost of living let alone be sufficient to service your mountainous student debt. 

Meanwhile, you might have also discovered that the “economic recovery” your econ teachers told you about really never took place and that Ben Bernanke’s “courage” really didn’t do much of anything to improve the lot of the Middle Class, which you probably thought you were set to join within a month of graduation.

In fact, statistics show there’s about a one in three chance that you’re back living in your parents’ basement, which means you get the privilege of eating dinner with the family every night and listening to your dad tell you how disgusted he is with the fact that he can’t get a promotion but his boss just bought a new Maserati thanks to a Fed-assisted tripling of the company’s stock price.

No sir, we don’t blame you for being disgusted nor were we surprised to discover that compared to young Americans in 1986, you’re three times as likely to think the American dream is dead and buried.  

As WaPo notes, "young workers today are significantly more pessimistic about the possibility of success in America than their counterparts were in 1986, according to a new Fusion 2016 Issues poll - a shift that appears to reflect lingering damage from the Great Recession and more than a decade of wage stagnation for typical workers.”

More color on the methodology: 

The Fusion poll replicated the questions from a Roper/Wall Street Journal poll of young Americans that was conducted in 1986, the year Mister Mister topped the pop charts and Bill Buckner's error cost the Boston Red Sox a World Series title. Both polls posed a series of questions about the American Dream: what it meant to individuals, whether it actually existed and, if it did, how hard it was to attain.


In the three decades between the surveys, pollsters found, share of young Americans overall who said the American Dream "is not really alive" grew sharply from 12 to 29 percent. Among white people, it nearly tripled from 10 percent to 29 percent. One in three white non-college graduates now say it is not alive, compared to one-fifth of white college graduates; the increase from 1986 was larger for non-graduates than for graduates.

Of course maybe if you just wait long enough, the Bernanke QE "wealth effect" will eventually trickle down. Or better still, maybe lackluster revenue growth will miraculously pick up for American corporates, ending the necessity of using financial engineering to squeeze EPS beats out of topline misses thus sparking a frenzied hiring spree. 

But above all, don't rest on your laurels. You, like Ben, should have "the courage to act."