Millennials ain’t so bad

August 18, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Us Millennials tend to have a fairly bad rap when it comes to columnists, writers, and ‘professionals’ who claim to have this deep insight into a generation that has been labeled as, well mostly a lazy failure. More often than not, these generalizations and statements are made by people who are either at the older portion of Gen X, Gen Y’ers, or the Baby Boomers, proclaiming they have figured out the psyche of those darned Millennials.

The first thing that should tell you much of what is said is a load of crock is the fact they can’t even identify what years exactly qualify as ‘Millennials’. Some experts will tell you it’s those born in the late 1970s to the early ’90s. Others say it’s the late ’80s to the late ’90s. Others still have identified Millennials as those born between the 1970s all the way up to the 2000s.

Within those extremely broad brackets are very, very different generations. But, let’s say for the sake of this piece we’re talking early ’80s to mid-’90s – my age group. It’s those ‘adults’ struggling to keep full-time jobs, make decent wages, pay rent, start families, and basically do anything else the other generations have deemed as ‘adulting’.

Older generations say we’re worse than them, but the truth is, every generation says that of the next generation. And while there is some level of truth to that statement, oftentimes it has less to do with them actually being worse, and more to do with the changing values and expectations of society.

It’s true many Millennials tend to jump from job to job, struggle with mass amounts of debt, and even fewer find themselves with families by age 30 or able to proclaim we are homeowners.

But let’s face it, this has nothing to do with believing we are special snowflakes and chasing after unicorns spraying rainbows out their rears. Much of this has to do with the way the economy has changed, the different expectations of employers, and the changing face of the workforce.

While this may date me to some of our younger readers, I can still remember when most stores in Orangeville were closed on Sundays, and pretty much the whole town shut down by 8 p.m. on weekends. People worked to live, and they made decent wages if they went for the right jobs. A lot of people didn’t go to college, and even fewer went to University, racking up student debts and loans.

When I was born, a person making $15/hour at a full-time factory job could afford to buy a home in their early twenties, because houses were around the $100,000-$150,000 mark. Even less further back, I was hired at a factory on a student contract, which paid $1.50 an hour less than full-time employees, but almost $3/hour more than minimum wage. In my year off before college, I managed to save up enough to pay for – wait for it – residence. In one fell swoop, everything I busted my butt for was gone, but it was going to be worth it.

Now, that same job for a full-time employee pays minimum wage, and those same houses are going for $375,000 or more (I should know, I was one of the few lucky enough to purchase one). Rent is through the roof, even in our small town. The average two-bedroom apartment goes for upwards of $1300 a month plus utilities, something two young people working part-time jobs can barely afford.

People say we expect too much, and we’re not willing to work hard enough to get it. But the problem is, that working to live mentality has switched to a living to work mentality. While minimum wage has risen almost $6 since I joined the workforce, minimum wage does not equal a living wage. Our current minimum wage doesn’t even reflect the rate of inflation. Costs go up, and wages become less impactful.

Going to college or university isn’t helping, either. We enter the ‘adult world’ with a bucketful of debt, and a job market that makes us wish we hadn’t bothered going to school in the first place. The government has sat back and allowed companies to slowly eliminate full-time jobs, instead favouring part-time and contract positions. Entry-level jobs that were supposed to go to those with no experience, and hopefully fresh out of college, are now demanding full Bachelor’s degrees and five-plus years’ experience.  Administrative jobs are requiring Bachelor’s degrees in marketing, finances, communications, and business administration, ruling out anyone who either didn’t go to school or could only afford college.

Most Millennials I know find themselves struggling to be comfortable with where they’re at, not because they expect more, but because the world seems to expect more out of us.  Sure, there are lazy slackers who are squandering away what money they have and going nowhere, but I can point out people from the Baby Boomers and every other generation who did the same.

In closing, what I’m trying to say is, the next time you feel the desire to share a meme or article, or post about what losers this generation is, take pause and remember, the world we’re fighting to get a start in is very different than the one you did. Our success shouldn’t be defined by whether we have a cushy job, no debt,  a family and a house, but whether or not we are fighting, despite the setbacks, to make something of ourselves in life.


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