THE NEW NORMAL

This is the kind of data release sure to go viral and put the internet into a frenzy, so let me be the first of many to tell you that Pew has done an analysis concluding that "at home with parents" is now the most common living arrangement for 18-34 year olds. It is the plurality winner at 32.1%, edging out the long-time leader "with spouse or partner." The trend is not unique to America but is affecting Europe and the rest of the industrialized world as well.

It's hard to tell where sociopolitical attitudes begin and where one's defensiveness and projection end, but I've been involved in a lot of conversations lately with older adults observing that The Youths aren't buying homes, getting married, or pumping out grandkids like they used to (or are expected to). As a childless, single 37 year old male living alone in a rental unit, it's hard not to engage in such conversations with a broad perspective rather than just making my own excuses. The Pew report predictably – not to say unwisely – includes a discussion of the job market. Logically, young people who can't find decently paid work are likely to be living with someone who can at least partially subsidize their basic costs. This is obvious enough not to merit any in-depth discussion.

What is under-appreciated, in my view, is that the relationship between the economy and the life choices of young adults goes beyond how hard it is to find a job or what said jobs pay. Finding a job is not easy and finding one that pays well is even less so, but the real culprit behind the trend Pew highlights is the lack of stability that young adults have had beaten into them over the past three decades. Everyone is aware that lots of young adults aren't "settling down" because they can't find good jobs. I'd argue that at least as many have a good job but have no job security beyond day-to-day. We've heard all our lives how the days of spending 40 years at one company/employer are over, and that much is obvious. Despite the fact that some of us (OK, I'm 3 years over the limit but I'll lump myself in there nonetheless) are doing somewhere between "OK I guess" and "pretty well." Without anything to rely on for the future, though, who's going to take out a 30-year mortgage and have kids?

The sea change in our economy has not been one of wages and salaries (although those are stagnant since the 1970s outside of the top 1%) but of job security. We've been told that in order to compete in the Global Economy we have to work cheap and hard; to work anything less than 50 hours per week for the good of our employer is a moral failing, a shirking of economic and patriotic responsibility, yet they owe us nothing whatsoever in return. There is no trade-off in terms of stability. If they can find someone to do our jobs for less tomorrow, even halfway around the world, Third Wave capitalism demands that they fire us in the name of Efficiency and Shareholder Value. And that new reality – the knowledge that no matter how hard or well one works, the financial rug could be yanked out from under us at any minute – is one that actively discourages young adults from doing the very things (investing, saving, home-buying, and consuming) that this new economy needs us to do in order to grow. This system doesn't work unless we spend; we don't spend when we're insecure about the future; we have to be kept in fear so we're too afraid to demand better compensation and treatment; we spend less to compensate for stagnant compensation.

And that is why this whole Rube Goldberg machine of cheap credit, disposable labor, and a consumption-based American Dream is irredeemably goddamn broken.

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74 Responses to “THE NEW NORMAL”

  1. carrstone Says:

    This week a Gallup blog article points out that its "research shows that 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs, meaning they are interested in their work and making a full effort on the job. The remaining 87% of employees are either not engaged or indifferent — or even worse, are actively disengaged and potentially hostile toward their organizations."

    Loyalty is a two-way street and claiming that employers act as though they "owe us nothing whatsoever in return" is not helpful, they pay your wages, don't they? And yes, I did notice the sycophantic surreptitious use of 'us'.

    You are, however, at least half right when you claim "we've been told…. we have to work cheap and hard" – no-one's been forced to take take a job at a wage lower than he thinks he's worth.

    But as it's an all too common trait for the young to ignore what their elders tell them, why make such a meal of it here? You've made your own bed, lie in it.

  2. HoosierPoli Says:

    Longitudinal research shows that economic experiences during formative years stays with a cohort during their entire lives, shaping their spending patterns until they die. The Depression generation never threw away another can of soup the rest of their lives; the Millenial generation will be much more reluctant to take out of mortgage or invest in a pension plan. We'll be hoarding cash (well, more precisely, government-insured overnight bank deposits) for the rest of our lives.

  3. HoosierPoli Says:

    Carrstone, what are you doing commenting on a blog? Shouldn't you be generating value for your employer? After all, they put a roof over your head.

  4. wetcasements Says:

    Living in Asia it is kind of interesting how American culture pretty much assumes you'll move out at 18 (after high school) or 21 (after college) forever. Koreans tend to move out when they get married, and if they stay single it's pretty common to live with your parents, well, forever. Parts of Europe are pretty much the same. (Granted, a lot of it has to do with a lack of housing.)

    Just sayin' I agree that the US economy is fucked, and blaming millenials for the mess the boomers left them is always bullshit. (I'm Gen X so I'm obviously blameless.)

    But maybe it's not such a bad thing if we do away with the notion that living with your parents as an adult is such a horrible awful thing. Hell, if it bankrupts a few of my previous landlords / slumlords / shitty real estate companies than I'd say it's an objectively _good_ thing.

  5. Blunderstorms : The New Normal Says:

    […] "And that new reality – the knowledge that no matter how hard or well one works, the financ… […]

  6. Get hy Says:

    Security is in our skills, not in our companies. Learn to do something that's hard, scarce, and in demand. And then keep learning. And then save like hell.

  7. Katydid Says:

    @Wetcasements; Gen X is usually overlooked in these discussions, but as you know, our lives sucked as hard as the Millenials' did. Most of us came of age either as latchkey kids, or latchkey babysitters of our younger siblings. Our older siblings/young parents, the Boomers, graduated high school and took a tour of Woodstock or hitchhiking through Europe before landing a job-for-life that paid a living wage.

    Us? We were expected to get the hell out of the house at 18 because that's what the Boomers did, so many of us ended up living 10-to-an-appartment while working the McJobs that we could get, and we were derided by society for working McJobs. Those of us who managed to scrape together enough money to go to college graduated with debt (YES! It didn't start with the Millenials!) into St. Ronnie Raygun's recession. The few of us who managed to land non-McJobs were repeatedly told by our Boomer bosses and co-workers that we were lazy slackers who would never amount to anything, and no, don't even think about a promotion until the Boomer ahead of you gives up the job. Now we're expected to train the Boomers' kids, the Millenials, to be our bosses.

    None of what Ed's saying about economic hardship is new or special to the Millenials. Gen X practically invented the idea of married couples renting out rooms in their crappy starter tract houses just to pay the mortgage because it took five working adults to support a household.

  8. Amt guy Says:

    As a gen x-er who spent 14 years at one job that got outsourced to India last year, I'm getting a kick out of this blog… Etc etc.

    Also @katydid, YES

  9. Katydid Says:

    @Amt guy: very sorry to hear about your outsourced job. I'm waiting for the day that happens to my job, too. I feel the pain.

    In summary; by my account, things have sucked economically since at least the mid-1980s, which is (gulp!) 30 years now. Glad the Millenials at least had the option of moving in with Mom & Dad.

  10. H.M.S. Blankenship Says:

    I am not fully engaged at work right now, so I can't look it up, but I would like to recommend to Carrstone a book by, I think, Reg Theriault, called How to Tell if You're Tired.

  11. R E G Says:

    It's not just about employment opportunities. Back in the last century I was the oldest of a large family. Leaving home meant I was no longer a babysitter, driver, cook etc. My own apartment meant my own space.

    Larger homes and smaller families give adult children essentially the same living arrangement I had as a young adult. A couple of rooms to themselves, share a kitchen and a washing machine. Why would you pay for that if you can get the same at home? I also suspect a lot of room mate arrangements fall apart because children from smaller families are not used to the give and take in larger groups. If your first attempt to live independently is a disaster, returning to the familiar nest makes sense.

    In my case return was never possible; my younger brother took over my room/furniture/closet within 24 hours of my leaving.

  12. Get hy Says:

    We are comparing our economic situation to a post-War bubble that existed mostly for a handful of college educated white males. It was not sustainable.

  13. Tim H. Says:

    A lot of the problem seems to be in the degree of contrast between top and bottom, and the desire of some of the 1% to aggrandize by degrading the 99%, a poisonous meme.
    Today's For Better or For Worse rerun (www.fborfw.com/strip_fix) illustrates this point.

  14. Deggjr Says:

    Hmmm, this Gallup poll says "U.S. Employee Engagement Reaches New High in March" at 34.1%. http://www.gallup.com/poll/190622/employee-engagement-reaches-new-high-march.aspx?g_source=EMPLOYEE_ENGAGEMENT&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles

    This is a discussion on the US economy, right?

  15. FMguru Says:

    Yeah, not spending money on anything you don't have to is the natural result of an economy that offers nothing to you. If my last two jobs have been outsourced/downsized out from under me, I'm much less likely to any kind of long-term purchases or anything that seems frivolous. No new furniture, no kitchen appliances, no vacations, no way am I financing a new car. Plus, if the new reality is that you have to be mobile and move every few years to chase jobs well that's a hell of a disincentive to buy the sort of durable household goods that make up the backbone of the economy. Why would I spend real money on upgrading my sagging chipboard bookcases when I've got a 50/50 chance of having to move them across town/state/the country in the next year?

  16. Rugosa Says:

    Just the other day a friend and I were talking about China's one-child policy and what a disaster it has been – it started with mention of another friend who adopted baby girls from China. Who could have predicted that the extreme preference for boys would mean that girls would be aborted or abandoned in large numbers? Now young men are desperate for unavailable wives, and (interestingly enough) women aren't treated any better for being relatively scarce.

    So in the US, the capitalists have squeezed ordinary workers to the bone, and now are complaining that the economy still sucks because younger people aren't buying houses and cars and creating more consumers by having children. Who could have predicted such an outcome? The solution, of course, is to fracture the economy even more with exploitive gig jobs (oops, I mean the sharing economy).

  17. Robert Says:

    Whenever I see someone refer to 'the Boomers' as a monolithic entity, it irks me a bit. My oldest sibling was born in '48, the youngest in '62. All seven of us are technically Boomers, but I believe that our life experiences have been quite different. Graduating high school in '69 was very different from doing so in '79 – especially if you were an able-bodied male. My husband was born in '65, at the very end of the 'Boomer generation '.

    I certainly don't judge anyone younger than me for not living as me and my siblings have. I left college without a degree, got an entry-level position in the Civil Service and clung to it like a limpet for my entire career; my husband had a comparatively upscale corporate career until the day his entire department was eliminated. He's now building a small business here in Oakland, and I took early retirement to stay home and take care of the kids. I can't imagine anyone leaving college now being able to follow my path.

    Ed, thank you for this blog. I've learned a lot here, and it's one of the very few places online where I always read the comments.

  18. maurinsky Says:

    Gen X was also a generation where the expectation of college was not so broad – only about 60% of my high school graduating class (1987) went straight on to college – a small chunk went into the military and another small chunk went to work. So when I moved out of my parents house (at 18, never to reside there again!) I was broke as shit but didn't have debt weighing me down on top of that.

    I have to say, though, that the millenials I know are deferring things like home buying and children, but they aren't so frugal in other ways. All the millenials I know who own cars have better, newer cars than I do, they lease instead of buy; or they live in urban areas where they use Zipcar or Uber when they need a car/ride somewhere. They all go out to eat more than I do. They seem to be spending their money on ephemeral things, but this is of course just my personal observation of a selected group of well educated millenials who have good jobs (mostly engineers).

    They are prepared to be mobile, I know one millenial who owns a home, but he comes from a very wealthy family which subsidizes him considerably.

  19. Safety Man! Says:

    @carrstone
    My father recently retired and returned to work as a consultant. He asked for unpaid leave not long ago to take his dad to a doctors appointment, and was denied. When I talked to him about it he was livid that he only had 2 weeks of "time off" a year, and that he might not even necessarily be allowed to even take it. He simply had no idea that this is the new normal in employment. I say this without malice; I hope you are able to have a similar eye-opening experience of your own one day.

    Last place I worked, I was the only one working a particular contract. They refused to promote me, so I walked. Last I heard they had to replace me with a subcontractor, probably at a net loss, to complete the contract. Employers are not magical unicorns, and they don't always make logical decisions.

    @katydid
    I am an older Millenial, but all of my roommates have been Gen X, in exactly the situations you described, right down to training the boss's kid to be the new boss.

  20. John Danley Says:

    I blame this on the MacCready explosion combined with the perspicacity of Alan Greenspan. Population boom + asshole = extinction.

  21. Katydid Says:

    @maurinsky: I think the expectation of college for GenX probably varied by location. In my particular location, it was stressed and stressed to us that we'd never be able to support ourselves without a good-paying job, and since the unions were busted by St. Ronnie, that meant getting a college education. Additionally, if you were a woman GenX'er, you saw plenty of Boomer stay-at-home wives (perhaps even your own mother) dumped for newer, prettier trophy models and left with no job history or job skills but with the children to somehow feed and clothe.

    Where it took a nasty turn was thanks to the post-WWII GI Bill and general feeling in the country that spending money on the Boomers was an excellent idea, most of our parents went to college for either free or at very little cost (which is how they were able to fund the backpacking trips through India and the summer at Woodstock). By the 1980s, the country had decided not to spend its money on the children, so my generation got the booming college costs. My state school went from $800 tuition my first semester to $4900 for my last one four years later–and the minimum wage was $2.65. That meant a 2000-plus-hour workyear (that is, more-than-fulltime at about 43 hours/week, 52 weeks/year of work) just to pay tuition; forget about books and incidentals like food or a roof over our heads.

    Meanwhile, my gen were the slackers, the losers who were never going to amount to anything–perhaps because after working a fulltime job plus a part-time job *and* taking classes, we were freakin' exhausted.

  22. a worker Says:

    You are, however, at least half right when you claim "we've been told…. we have to wrk cheap and hard" – no-one's been forced to take take a job at a wage lower than he thinks he's worth."

    http://www.dvdizzy.com/images/m/muppetsmostwanted-06.jpg

  23. Major Kong Says:

    There was a saying in the Soviet Union that went:

    "They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work."

  24. Labrys Says:

    Both of our veteran sons, both with disability ratings that don't provide a living, are back with us. One has a college degree from a good school and still can't find a job sufficient to pay child support AND cover living expenses. In the spring we will welcome a Marine vet and his wife – so many can find nowhere to go and are heartlessly told "You shouldn't have left your military job!" You know, the one almost guaranteed to eventually kill you?!

  25. Major Kong Says:

    "no-one's been forced to take take a job at a wage lower than he thinks he's worth"

    Well sure, there's always the option of begging in the streets and sleeping under an overpass.

    Better pray you never find yourself working in the wrong industry at age 50+

    Next time you see a middle-aged guy stocking shelves at Best Buy, selling used cars at CarMax, or driving for Uber, ask him what he did before. You'll probably get a variation of:

    "I was middle-management at XYZ Corp before the merger, downsizing and this was the best I could get".

  26. TakomaMark Says:

    Also a Gen Xer and I can corroborate a lot of what other Gen Xers are saying about our generation's experiences in the post-St. Ronaldus economy. The weird thing is, housing prices are escalating again. Who is buying these houses if millenials and Gen Xers aren't?

    I don't expect most boomers (some of whom have had it tough – some of those who lost jobs in their late 50's in 2008 probably still don't have new jobs) are looking to upsize, or really looking for new houses at all. That leaves Gen Xers and Millenials as the prospective buyers. Or is it investors hoping to convert the entire nation to rental Pottersvilles? I have no idea, but for housing values to increase someone has to be buying.

  27. Major Kong Says:

    Not to mention that the price of housing/rent tends to go up at 2-3 times the overall inflation rate.

    When the price of anything else goes up we call it "inflation".

    When the price of housing goes up we call it "a great housing market".

  28. Chicagojon2016 Says:

    Wow, the actual post here isn't reflected at all in the Facebook comments today. Guess I should have read the actual post first.

    Not sure what to say on this one…I'm checking my privilege.

  29. Jestbill Says:

    @Major Kong:
    When I left home and began renting (Stone Age) there were really cheap places to live. Yes, they were terrible, but a young man could deal with them.
    All those places have been torn down.

    So wages have been stagnant, the educational requirements have gone up and housing has become expensive by any measure.

    USA! USA! USA!

    @Carrstone: I have met people who actually believed that the Great Depression was a minimal hassle and that people who suffered did so because they just weren't as smart as "my Dad." Dumbass.

  30. nwnk Says:

    @maurinsky: Hi, engineer, high end of the age range for millenials. I moved from the midwest to Boston in 2005. I bought a used car (outright, in cash) in 2002. In 2011 I dumped it and switched to Zipcar and the occasional Hertz rental for long trips. Economically it was a no-brainer. On the one side, despite zero car payments on a mid-90s Accord – a ridiculously reliable and low TCO car whose only major failing at 220k miles was some rusty rear quarter panels – I still had gas, maintenance, insurance, inspection, and a parking sticker to cover. On the other side, I have a bike and easy and cheap access to the MBTA, which together cover >90% of my transportation needs.

    Now, am I fortunate to have a work situation flexible enough to accomodate this? Yes. Am I fortunate to live in a city where public transit is actually, in USA terms, pretty credible? Yes. Did I switch my automotive transit provider because I wanted to spend more money less intelligently? Not so much, no.

  31. sluggo Says:

    I have said it before and I'll say it again:

    You know that thing that if a billion monkeys banged on a billion typewriters for a billion years, one of them would pound out Hamlet?

    carrstone was the fourth runner up.

  32. geoff Says:

    Exactamente, Ed.

    Even if COLLEGE-EDUCATED kids COULD find decent paying jobs– a big if– why would they want to buy a house after seeing the housing bust up close and personal as children, and many of them seeing THEIR college-educated parents lose their jobs after a corporate buyout or "rightsizing"?
    As the economists would say, they are rational actors, and refusing to take risks in the face of a very uncertain future.

    (By the way, I realize that the above is insufferably class-based. "Those people", who never had the inclination or money to go to college, have been getting screwed since at least the late '70s, and the bourgeois "thought leader" types never really cared. And for the black southerners who made the great migration in the '40s and '50s, things weren't ever that great and got worse not too long after their arrival up north and out west.)

    Good New York Times article today on Millenials' economic angst:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/us/feeling-let-down-and-left-behind-with-little-hope-for-better.html?_r=0

  33. Nunya Says:

    I have a feeling that Carrstone lives in a van down by the river but is convinced that he's going to be a billionaire as soon as his Cutco and Amway recruits get off their lazy asses and start making him some damn money.

  34. gromet Says:

    @maurinsky "millenials … aren't so frugal in other ways. All the millenials I know who own cars have better, newer cars than I do … they use Zipcar or Uber … They all go out to eat more than I do. They seem to be spending their money on ephemeral things"

    I'm Gen X and I've noticed this too. But I also wonder if median participation in the culture is simply pricier now than it was in, say, 1996. Back then, I could forgo cable, pay $50 on my landline for dial-up internet, rent occasional movies for $2.50 at Blockbuster and play the radio all day. That was it. Now, you've got high-speed internet, 500 channels, HBO, Netflix, Prime, an iPhone, maybe Sirius — how much of this can you cut out of your budget before you feel not only a little deprived but actually entirely left out of the culture?

    Not to mention that restaurants and bars are (generally) pricier now, I think, so just leaving the house is a more glamorous ordeal. We had our dives and taco stands and a grungy aesthetic that was inexpensive to maintain – at least, that's how I remember it; in the 90s I knew ONE twentysomething with a scotch habit. Now there's a pop-up scotch bar down the street from me packed with them. Obviously you could cut out $30 pours to save money… but the fact is, that's on the table now, and it wasn't then. (Unless it was, and I was just so poor I didn't even know. Which is possible.)

  35. Eau Says:

    Don't waste your time replying to Carstone folks. He just drops by to tell us about bootstraps and choices and such on his way to a day of job creation and self-reliance and trolling left-leaning blogs.

  36. carrstone Says:

    @HoosierPoli
    What silliness is this? Are you saying that I'm only entitled to comment if I'm in support of this latest whine from Ed?
    What are you doing commenting on a blog? Shouldn't you be generating value for your employer?

    @H.M.S. Blankenship
    Thanks for the recommendation; 82 copies of the book are still available at Amazon at a price reflecting its value: $0.01.

    @Jestbill
    I don't think you can accuse me of saying, "that the Great Depression was a minimal hassle and that people who suffered did so because they just weren't as smart as my Dad." I agree that the Great Depression was an abomination but would reject any suggestion that FDR was the hero who ended it. And before you trot out all the usual defenses, just google 'did fdr prolong the great depression?'

    @Sluggo/Nunya
    Way to go, Sluggo, make with the calumny and using it requires no effort on your part. As an added bonus – it's free! And using it means you don't have to deal with any of the issues I raised. Bravo, real progressiveness at work: impolite, uneducated, uninformed, unskilled, immoral and baying. But, as you're Ed's little poodles, your bark signifies nothing.

  37. OtherAndrew Says:

    I'm more of the opinion that millenials eat out more because their work schedules are longer and more uncertain week-to-week.

  38. Robert Says:

    Jestbill – my paternal grandparents had good jobs and a paid for house during the Depression. What my father learned from that was that he was incredibly fortunate. He also worshipped at the shrine of St. Franklin and the Blessed Eleanor the rest of his life, for saving the country from the Scylla of communism and the Charybdis of fascism.

  39. Major Kong Says:

    Well let's see:

    US GDP declined by 12.9% in 1932

    FDR took office in 1933

    US GPD grew by 1.8% in 1933
    10.8% in 1934
    8.9% in 1935
    12.9% in 1936
    5.1% in 1937, which was about the time FDR attempted to balance the budget and caused a double-dip in 1938

    If Hoover had achieved numbers like that, Conservative economists would still be talking about the "Hoover Miracle".

    After 1938 we're starting to rearm in anticipation of WWII.

  40. mothra Says:

    gromet: I thought all the kidz these days were getting rid of cable and using Apple TV/their 'puters to get content?

    Here is what I know for sure: I was born in 1960, and while I fall into the Boomer category, I am in no way, shape or form a Boomer. I graduated from college into the Raygun Recession. Fucker ruined everything. I think they really need to cut those of us born 1960 and after out of that Boomer generation–shit, I think they could cut it off at 1955. That generation was a 10-year one.

    And Carrstone, I don't like wishing calamity on people, but here's hoping you get downsized at your job and have to accept a job delivering Domino's Pizza at a wage rate considerably less than you think you are worth/deserve just to be able to afford a shitty motel room that offers weekly rates. Then we can talk about whether you were "forced" to take that job or not.

  41. Skepticalist Says:

    Buffalo has its share of millenials who have moved downtown to the big vacant hotels. It always makes good reading in the paper. These people make a habit of not buying cars or real estate. Getting from the old Statler hotel to one's job, is a real chore however. Buffalo has shitty public transportation. There are decent jobs in the city if one has something to do with health care. There are big hospitals and more coming on every block. The interesting jobs are sorta near the city.

    Being an old boomer, I don't yet get it.

  42. Cobbtown Says:

    You know those die-hard Bernie fans that are so irritating and so emotional, so irrational and so angry? THIS IS WHY. Why shouldn't they be angry and intense? They are the young folks who found out the future they had been promised isn't there. They shuffled morose into their parents' basements where they thought about why they were in that predicament. Then there came a politician unlike others who saw the same things they did and sai he was out to change things. Then they saw how poorly he was treated by the media, and how the established political machine threw roadblocks in his way, and you know what? They got a little angry and hard to handle. Wouldn't you?

  43. Major Kong Says:

    @Mothra

    I was born in 1962 and have never considered myself to be a boomer. I was much too young to experience the major events of the boomer generation.

    I was one year old when Kennedy was assassinated.
    I was five during the "summer of love".
    I was seven during Woodstock.
    I was twelve when Nixon resigned.
    I was thirteen when Saigon fell.

  44. Tim H. Says:

    This boomer voted for Bernie in the primary because business as usual doesn't look sustainable, and it seems less expensive to moderate now, than to rebuild burnt wreckage.

  45. Katydid Says:

    @Cobbtown: Yes! Millenials are the FIRST GENERATION IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND who have ever had the least bit of economic struggle! Thank God you were here to educate us on that. And that's why they feel entitled to call in death threats and to continue to call in death threats and other harassment to the woman who dared to uphold the rules at the convention!

  46. Cobbtown Says:

    Gee, Katydid, you sound awful angry…

  47. Mo Says:

    "Gallstone" still cracks me up.

    Tip o' the hat to whoever first noted the similarity.

  48. Ron Says:

    I'm a Gen-Xer who basically followed the path of my parents until I hit the brick wall. Moved out when I was 18, college, lived in craphole with five other dudes for cheap, got job, got married, bought house in 2006. Just like my parents 30 years earlier. But instead of my house quadrupling in value and paying for my kids' education, home repairs and new cars, I'm a decade into this mortgage and it'd be a miracle if I could get what I paid for my house. Home equity? LOL. This is where my path diverges from that of my parents. They rode home eauity and jobs with pensions for 30 years, I pay $2000/month for my kids to go to kindergarten full time so my wife and I can work all day every day to pay for my kids to go to kindergarten full time. (I hope my children aren't as stupid as us.)

    Im pretty responsible with money. No credit card debt. No fancy cars. Save what we can. Certainly not starving. We're not swimming in cash but we're decently employed and can't complain. All this said I wish I never bought into the noose around my neck that is home ownership. I've navigated multiple corporate jobs that taught me that the rug can get pulled out from under you at any moment. Who needs the commitment of a home that's not an investment? Fuck it, rent a place and when corporate America eventually shits you out, you can easily downsize to a shitty apartment, cancel your god damned $150/month cell phone and buy plenty of cheap Monsanto food to keep you alive until you're 90.

    If I were ten years younger I might scrap the car and cell phones as well. And the retarded $30,000 wedding. And maybe the kids. It's hard to roll the dice with the sword of Damocles hanging over you.

  49. April Says:

    Wow. So many topics. I'm a boomer born in the middle year (1954) with two millennial daughters. First of all, Asia – yeah, they often live in multi-generational homes. Personally I would LOVE it if either or both of my daughters lived with me, but they seem to think they should have their own lives. (Totally fucked up that part of parenting!) One is college educated (paid for by her dad) working for CA state government and the other is a café manager making 16 bucks an hour plus tips. Both have bfs but with no marriage (or grandkid…sigh) in sight.

    In my own career I was unemployed often….the idea that boomers all had good, stable, well-paying jobs is just not true. There were times jobs were hard to come by. At one point I briefly had to go on food stamps because I simply could not get work ANYWHERE. I then lied my way into a job at Micky D's. (Told them I had no education, no husband and three children to feed. Only the no husband was true – this was before I got married. The interesting thing was, I then got a job as a chemist, partially because the boss was impressed that I would sling hamburgers rather than starve. Um, wouldn't anyone?)

    I do agree everything is totally fucked up. I've been wondering for years why the powers-that-be don't understand that if you don't give people good jobs with good pay how do they expect to sell anything, but somehow the bottom hasn't been reached yet. It's interesting that neither of my daughters have a car – that would have been unthinkable when I was their age.

    And I'm doing my last working years in China because that's where I can make the best money. If the good jobs are going to be exported to China, at least some of the workers will follow.

  50. mago Says:

    @Major Kong, yeah but you own a 57 De Soto and fly planes and stuff.

    And I'm still not convinced that carrstone's not Ed.

  51. wetcasements Says:

    "if you don't give people good jobs with good pay how do they expect to sell anything"

    Because finance has replaced manufacturing as the Prime Mover of the US economy. Henry Ford needed to sell cars back to his workers, while Goldman Sachs profits off of arcane pyramid schemes regardless of how the US middle class is doing.

  52. April Says:

    This.

    https://medium.com/@thehipp/fuck-you-i-m-not-a-millennial-e92e653ceb39#.quwhc8243

  53. April Says:

    True, Wetcasements, but at some point SOMEBODY sells stuff.

  54. carrstone Says:

    All these sorry tales of lives affected by the 'man', how my heart bleeds for you all. I hasten to point out though, that they're anecdotal and, as such, not worth setting to music.

    So how to correct? As Ed suggests, we're not saving/investing enough; in response, the 'man' isn't investing either, both bemoaning the uncertainty that the other has brought to the scene. Like two gunslingers on a dusty street they face each other, who'll be the first to draw?

    Do you really believe that government has the skill to steer the economy? By enacting laws? If they could, wouldn't they have done it already? Are you all really so befuddled that you place your trust for the future in pols' Robin Hood promises? Will you never learn?

    Nobody gives a toss about you and your anecdote – it's indicative of nothing. Except, of course, in blogs like this where, like at a circle jerk, your story can be measured against the outrage of others.

  55. wetcasements Says:

    You sound really nice.

  56. Katydid Says:

    Thanks, April; that was an enlightening read.

  57. Katydid Says:

    @Cobbtown, no, you just sound awfully naive. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, kiddo, but you Millenials are simply not the bestest and brightiest shiniest snowflakes that ever flaked.

  58. Katydid Says:

    @Ron; on the bright side, next year your kids will be in first grade, which is all-day (well, sort-of, but that's another story)! Think of the savings! If you and the wife can swing early-late schedules (one works early, the other works late), then you don't have any daycare worries. If you can't swing that, check to see if your kids' school offers before- or after-care. I paid something like $10/day for that for my kids, and the extra money gives you the luxury of being able to afford food *and* clothes for them at the same time.

  59. Katydid Says:

    Obligatory link to the first page of comments: http://www.ginandtacos.com/2016/05/25/the-new-normal/comment-page-1/

  60. doug Says:

    'Nobody gives a toss about you' Backatyou Carrstone.

    Katydid, thanks. I still think Ed needs a big boy blog….

  61. Katydid Says:

    Doug, I'm leaving the blog decisions up to Ed; it's his blog and I'll continue to read it whatever host he uses.

  62. Major Kong Says:

    Funny how the same people who claim "the government can't steer the economy" are usually the same ones saying if we just pass another tax cut for the upper class we'll all prosper.

  63. Brian M Says:

    The real problem is this economy and lifestyle we were all "promised" is destroying the ecosysterm of the planet. So, as horrifying as it is…maybe this crash is inevitable anyway.

    I am too old and have too bad a set of genetics (and terrible dietary habits) to live to see the inevitable Mad Max scenario play out.

  64. Robert Says:

    Major Kong, you're a year younger than me.

    For some reason, that surprises.

    Regarding generational issues, I read "God's Bankers" recently (an exhaustively researched study of Vatican finance). I had not been aware of how abysmal some European economies had been during the '70s; Italy in particular. Granted, the USA wasn't swimming in cream that decade, but other nations had it even worse.

  65. Major Kong Says:

    @Robert

    It's not the years, it's the mileage!

  66. Deggjr Says:

    The government can't steer the economy but the mortgage interest deduction has been in place for over 100 years. Some people even think the Federal Reserve should stop steering the economy.

  67. a worker Says:

    "All these sorry tales of lives affected by the 'man', how my heart bleeds for you all."

    GULAG

  68. Omri Says:

    And nobody seems to make the obvious conclusions either.

    If you're always at risk of a pink slip, you have to find a place where you can be fired in the morning and rehired elsewhere by 5.

    Ergo, NY, Boston, the Bay Area.

    And yet the same right wingers who brought about the state of affairs lament the adaptations young people have made in response

  69. SufferinSuccotash Says:

    "Nobody gives a toss about you and your anecdote – it's indicative of nothing."
    For a minute there I thought it was the Pew Research Center's demographic study.
    Silly me.

  70. Get Hy Says:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/stuck-in-your-parents-basement-dont-blame-the-economy/

  71. Carrstone Says:

    @ Get Hy
    Interesting article but pearls before swine, I'm afraid.

  72. Get Lo Says:

    Get HY, that article blithely describes as causes the very items which Ed describes as symptoms. It nicely and smoothly elides all of the things Ed talks about and substitutes nice just-so stories in their place.

  73. freecookies Says:

    It has been this way (insecure job market) for years. Started in the 90s when the 2nd world more or less collapsed and their massive labor pool was open to the lowest bidder.

    Granted it's worse today, but the same conditions have existed for decades now.

    I think the big change isn't the insecurity – it's the willingness to take on debt that has come screeching to a halt. The St Louis Fed has noticed this recently and is more or less shitting their pants over it.

    And if you're not willing to take on debt, if you are determined to live within your means, well, this is what you get. Nobody buying anything, nobody wanting anything, economizing ruthlessly at every given turn. downsizing expectations and desires and avoiding the very media that keep urging you to buy buy buy.

    I'd say it's the symmetrical response to what all the corporations have been doing for the past 1-2 decades.

    As to how to fix it? Well, if nobody's going to take on debt at near 0%, they're just not going to do it. Hard to raise wages when that massive 2nd world oversupply of labor is still underbidding everyone else. Maybe, just maybe the cost structure of Murica can be lowered? Cheaper housing, cheaper transportation, cheaper everything? Except nobody in power wants to see that happen.

    Maybe like Jello Biafra said "It's time we all get together, round up these young people and start another war"

  74. Andrew Laurence Says:

    Perhaps this trend will lower the reproduction rate among long-time Americans to the point where the population will fall, or more new immigrants will fill in the difference. As a long-time American whose colleagues are mostly immigrants and first-generation Americans, I'm looking forward to this, as those people tend to see this country (and other countries, but we're talking about the USA here) as a gold mine rather than a constant source of unfairness to complain about.