You Should Care About Millennials and Recessions
We’ve all heard the stereotypes about millennials: they’re flaky, lazy, entitled, tech-savvy, and want to be insta-famous. The generation following Generation X and preceding Generation Z, and giving birth to Generation Alpha, Millennials have officially overtaken the Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, and they have grown up in a rapidly changing world. This generation is known for its usage and familiarity with the internet, mobile devices, and social media. Despite millennials’ access to technology and educational advancements, they have also endured two recessions. You Should Care About Millennials and Recessions: The Great Recession affected each country differently between 2007-2009, but the Global COVID-19 Recession borders on a Depression and is the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
RECESSIONS AND MILLENNIAL JOBS
Millennials gain ingress into adulthood amidst historically high levels of unemployment among young people. Even in the best of times, getting your foot in the door for a job is challenging. Recently applicants describe the competition for the jobs as fierce and scarce. They find it’s hard to get a response from companies after applying, or they are one of three hundred applicants. The struggle with applying and access to jobs can lead to more hardship as companies have all the power to cut wages and improve their bottom lines.
As if that’s not enough, Millennials are on the brink of becoming a “lost generation” struggling to achieve saving milestones. How? Research shows that Millennials hold a smaller share of total household wealth than older generations at similar ages. This generation should be working and saving for their future, but their attempts are fruitless. About 1 in 4 families have negative net worth, meaning their debts outsize their assets. And roughly 1 in 6 say they would be completely unable to pay for a $400 emergency expense (i.e., not with cash, credit cards, borrowing, or selling assets). For those experiencing job loss, these emergencies can prove catastrophic without sufficient financial cushion (stlouisfed.org).
STRENGTH AND GRIT
All stereotypes aside, this generation has blossomed through hardship. They have never lived in a golden age or time of prosperity. This generation’s formative years have endured a major terrorist attack, two recessions, expensive wars, inequality, climate emergencies, and a global pandemic. While generational wars wage on social media about who had it worse, one thing is sure, Millennials have been through the wringer.
To break it down: Millennials were raised to be successful, achieve, accomplish, and see themselves as above average. For all of the preparation in their upbringing and living in an era of heightened expectations, Millennials experience unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression. Cultural Stress plays a significant role millennials’ declining health along with staggering debt and uncertain employment prospects.
Despite precarious life circumstances, here’s how millennials have ushered in a new age and shifted the conversations and stigmas around mental health. They know it’s okay not to be okay. It helps to know that millennials are in this together. Open up to each other and help each other heal. The more we talk about uncomfortable truths and life experiences, the more positive change and growth we can create.
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