The Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, typically refers to those who were born between the years of 1980 and the early 2000s. Following Generation X—a generation that’s considered highly educated, productive, and job and family-oriented—millennials are often compared to their parents as being spoiled, lazy, and entitled.
However, the negative connotations that are often associated with the Millennial Generation might not be justly deserved. Entering one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression, facing stiff competition from peers and older generations, and suffocating under mountains of student debt, the financial struggles of the millennials are greater than ever before.
The Worst Job Market in Three Generations
Those of Generation X joined the job market at one of the most prosperous times in US history—right after the end of the second World War—when the economy was booming and the housing market, wages, and stocks were all growing.
On the other hand, those of Generation Y are entering the job market during the largest recession since the great depression, where unemployment numbers have soared, stocks have dropped, and the housing market has nearly collapsed.
According to an article published in Forbes in 2013, despite the increased number in those of employment age from 2008-2013—nearly twelve million—there are three million fewer Americans working. Happily, as of March 2014, the unemployment rate is slowly decreasing, and is currently at 6.7%, down from 8.3% in July of 2012.
Not only did millennials enter the job market during one of the greatest recessions in US history, but the added influx of employment-aged individuals has created growing competition over jobs and internships alike. No longer are the good old days upon us; days when working hard, knowing your trade, or having a bachelor’s degree secured you a decent entry-level position, where a person could then work their way up the ladder. Rather, many entry-level positions are now requiring a master’s degree and experience to even get an interview, and nearly all professional management positions require an advanced degree.
With the new requirements for getting hired, millennials who are fresh out of college are faced with competition from peers with more advanced degrees or older generations who offer more experience. Simply put, millennials are struggling to get a job, even when actively searching.
Growing Amounts of Student Debt
In the past nine years, the average amount of student debt has grown from $10,649 to $20,326, according to an article published in the Guardian. While pursuing a college education is the most important thing an individual can do to improve future success, getting a degree of any sort usually means racking up thousands of dollars in student loans. The large amount of student debt—one trillion dollars collectively—is crippling the economy, students, and parents alike.
Advice for Success
With all the factors that are hindering millennials’ ability to succeed, entering the job market can appear daunting and impossible. However, by embracing these critical tips for prosperity, those of Generation Y can become more profitable than ever:
Use Federal Loans and Scholarships for College: If you’re about to go to college and are wondering how you’re going to afford it, know that federal loans are a much safer bet than private loans. Private loans typically have higher interest rates, whereas federal loans have fixed interest rates, and are paid back based on current income. If you have to borrow money at all for school, seek out a federal loan. Better yet—seek out scholarships. Scholarship money does not have to be repaid, and contrary to popular belief, there are scholarships available for a wide variety of talents and backgrounds.
Save Money: Saving money might seem impossible, especially if you’re currently struggling to find a job. However, every dollar adds up, and you’ll be grateful that you made the effort. Cut out any unnecessary expenditures, such as your morning coffee run (you can make coffee at home). At the end of the month, after you’ve paid all your bills and bought all your groceries, put any leftover money directly into a savings account.
Connect More: Obtaining a job isn’t just about your education level or the years or experience you bring to the table; it’s also about who you know, so building connections is vital. Attend job fairs, request information interviews, ask friends and family members if they know who’s hiring, create a LinkedIn profile, or volunteer.
While those of the Millennial Generation may face more challenges that those of previous generations, there’s no doubt that they’re likely to succeed in time. In fact, some argue that the Millennial Generation may just be the greatest generation ever. Says TIME writer, Joel Stein, “millennials are just adapting quickly to a world undergoing rapid technological change… they’re optimistic, they’re confident, and they’re pragmatic at a time when it can be difficult just to get by.”
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