Karen Fratti
December 18, 2017 11:35 am
HBO

There are a few things that old people don’t understand, like Twitter, the Kardashians, and everyone’s favorite group of people to hate on: millennials. Older people generally seem to regard millennials as being just the worst, when in reality, those born between the years of 1982 and 2002 are just trying to live their best lives. Given how our parents’ generation really wrecked a lot of things for us, there are a few things you should say when people complain about millennials being entitled since yelling, “YOU RUINED THE BANKING SYSTEM AND THE CLIMATE” and running away to scroll through Instagram and vape after dinner will just make them think they’re right.

Some studies in the early aughts, done by marketing companies that wanted to sell things to us, were shocked to learn that larger-than-usual percentages of the oldest millennials weren’t buying homes, getting married, or having kids around the same time their parents did. This kinda messed them up. When they learned that millennials were also likely to move around in their careers and ya know, think that they should be able to find a job after taking 300 percent more debt than the Baby Boomers ever did to go to college, they started calling us “entitled.” But in reality, most of the data shows that millennials are making the best of a world that Baby Boomers created, and they should really chill on the victim blaming.

Here are some big points you can illuminate to the family elders this holiday season when they want to bear their judgment upon you:

1It costs a lot of money to work.

It’s not just student debt that makes it near impossible for millennials to save up to buy those precious homes and cars people want to sell us. According to the Brookings Institution, one third of Americans need a state license to do their jobs, compared to less than 5 percent in 1950. Whether it’s plumbing, cooking in a restaurant, or doing nails, it costs money to work. In part, this is due to labor and trade unions lobbying states to require occupational licenses, so that they could limit the number of skilled workers and therefore charge more labor. This means that people can spend up to $20,000 in schooling and certificate programs and end up working for a year or two without pay just to get a piece of paper to do their job. .

2They wouldn’t last a day in the gig economy.

Back in the day, it was actually possible for a person to get into a job, have it turn into a career, and then spend the rest of their days behind the same desk. But since the Great Recession, that just isn’t the case for a large number of employees. But employment conditions go back since way before then. With the influx of money into the stock market, corporations have been restructuring since the 1980s, which means hedge funds own the companies we work for. As a result, what used to be high-paid, salaried work was turned into contractor work, meaning more companies paying employees as little as they can get away with and nothing more. Millennials don’t have the same job security or safety net in terms of benefits that previous generations did.

3Not all millennials went to college.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse, having mountains of student debt and no job security or not being able to find a job at all. They’re both pretty miserable. Since 2010, the economy has added 11.6 million jobs, and 11.5 million of them went to workers with some higher education degree. So, workers with only a high school diploma have triple the unemployment rate, according to a 2016 study from Georgetown University and twice as many live in poverty than college grads. (Although, just to drive the point home, one in five millennials lives in poverty.)

4The 2008 Recession lives on.

The fact is, millennials who entered the job market in 2008 or just after had unbelievably poor odds of being hired. According to a Yale University study, it’s not like companies thought in 2012, when things had died down, “Oh, let’s go look at that older pool of applicants who had to move back home and waitress to make their student loan payments because they couldn’t find a job four years ago.” No, every time there’s a recession, the ones who were born at a certain time just keep falling behind. Let’s put it this way: If you’re under 30 years old, you’re twice as likely to be unemployed than if you were born before the Great Recession. 

5There is no “putting yourself through college.”

We can’t even with the stories of how all your uncles worked through college. Oh, did they? That’s cute. According to HuffPost, Baby Boomers had to work on average just over 300 hours at a minimum wage job to put themselves through a 4-year public college. For millennials, adjusted for inflation and all that, that number is 4,459.

6We’re not winging it.

All of the hand wringing over when millennials will just settle down needs to stop. Sure, values have changed over time, so we’re not all rushing to an altar or out to buy a gas-guzzling SUV. But 56 percent of millennials have put off a “life changing” event, like tying the knot with their partner or putting a down payment on a place to call home (yes, we want to have homes, too!) because of our student debt. We also have the lowest credit scores of any generation before us, which again, is likely a result of unregulated banks offering lines of credit to us while they were blowing up the economy when we couldn’t get a job but still had to eat. We were truly set up for success, guys. Ugh.

So the next time someone tells you that millennials are entitled, remind them that we had nothing to do with the state of the economy we entered into as high school grads. That’s on them. Luckily, we’re not kids anymore and tend to be a little smarter about our money and our politics than other generations. We’ll make it happen.

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