The millennial generation — also dubbed Generation Y — is a wide-ranging demographic cohort that includes folks born in the early 1980s to folks born in the early 2000s. But all millennials have one thing in common:
At least … that’s the sense you get from the never-ending coverage of millennials.
To start, there’s the ugly labor picture: Almost 44% of college graduates are underemployed, with nearly 9% stuck in low-wage jobs offering less than $25,000 per year. Younger workers make up a declining share of the labor force, live at home with mom and pop, and unemployment for “young people” (age 18 to 29) sits at 15.8%.
But perhaps worse are the stereotypes: that Gen Y is full of “lazy, entitled narcissists”; that millennials are unprepared for the workforce; that the Millenial Generation is pushing aside serious relationships for “hookup culture”; that we simply stare at our iPhones all day, shunning real conversations and relationships.
Thing is … millennials certainly are struggling with different problems than the generations before them. But millennials are far from the first up-and-coming generation to get slapped with a brutal wake-up call. A few factors are simply making the situation seem more alarming this go-round.
A Culture of Cheerleading
Our parents were raised by folks who grew up during the Great Depression, which naturally resulted in a focus on securing the necessities. However, millennials had the “luxury” of being raised in a much more idealistic time in which the emphasis has shifted from mere survival to success.
But we’ve shifted toward a culture that changes our definition of success so that no one ever fails. And when kids do fail, we often reach for an excuse — whether that means blaming a teacher or possibly pushing for a diagnosis that could explain the issue away.
The end result: Many parents are raising children who don’t understand that the real world doesn’t offer so many security blankets — especially when a recession hits.
The Good News: The real world seems to be a ruder awakening for many members of the up-and-coming age group, but other generations had to suffer through this transition as well — some better-equipped for it than others. Many often-mocked “flower children” went on to be productive members of the workplace, there’s no reason the same can’t hold true for Gen Y. Some will flunk out, but even some of the most ill-equipped or coddled millennials will survive. They will adapt for the workplace and the realities of adulthood, just as generations before did.
A Media Frenzy
Every generation has suffered growing pains in their transition to adulthood. Where millennials differ is that they face louder criticisms than any previous generation suffered, and from more directions.