90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Millennial Generation Searches For Meaning

The vision of a new generation. What millennials want from work, politics, life.

In this Teach for America Delta Institute released photograph taken July 5, 2013, TFA Curriculum Specialist Miles McCauley and University of Mississippi graduate, center, discusses techniques for making key points clear and engaging with corps members, Marcae Thompson, left, and Katherine Brown, both University of Alabama graduates at Pearman Elementary School, in Cleveland, Miss. (AP)

In this Teach for America Delta Institute released photograph taken July 5, 2013, TFA Curriculum Specialist Miles McCauley and University of Mississippi graduate, center, discusses techniques for making key points clear and engaging with corps members, Marcae Thompson, left, and Katherine Brown, both University of Alabama graduates at Pearman Elementary School, in Cleveland, Miss. (AP)

We’ve got images for generations.  Boomers, who looked to go from hippy days to having it all.  The Greatest Generation, that got its name late, along with its accolades.  Gen X, well, a few gray hairs now.  And then the Millennials.  Born between 1980 and 2000.  Coming up coddled, goes the rap, and then straight into the teeth of a brutal recession.  Of a new century without a clear path for their country.  Or, for many, their careers.  What’s their vision? What do they want from work, politics, life?  This hour On Point:  we’re talking with Millennials about the dreams of Millennials.

– Tom Ashbrook


Emily Esfahani Smith, managing editor of the monthly arts and criticism publication, The New Criterion. Managing editor of the Hoover Insitutions’ online journal, “Defining Ideas.” Editor-in-chief of Acculturated. (@EmEsfahaniSmith)

Nona Willis Aronowitz, education and poverty reporter for NBCNews.com. (@nona)

D.S. Kinsel, artist and program coordinator at MGR Youth Empowerment in Pittsburgh, PA. (@DSKinsel)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Millennial Searchers — “Today’s young adults born after 1980, known as Generation Y or the millennial generation, are the most educated generation in American history and, like the baby boomers, one of the largest. Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening. To give you a sense of their lot, when you search “are millennials” in Google, the search options that come up include: ‘are millennials selfish,’ ‘are millennials lazy,’ and ‘are millennials narcissistic.’”

The Atlantic Cities: Where Millennials Can Make It Now — “My generation, the Millennials, are infamously the first Americans who are not necessarily expected to do better than their parents. Having come of age during the Great Recession and now a long-lived weak job market, the assumption is not only that we’ll be less wealthy, but that the traditional markers of adulthood will be delayed. Or never achieved at all. Yet this worry also assumes today’s twentysomethings are aiming for the same things as previous generations: either to make it big in the major cities that have traditionally held the promise of success, or to settle down in the house with the white picket fence in the suburbs.”

National Journal: Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare — “According to the poll, 57 percent of millennials disapprove of Obamacare, with 40 percent saying it will worsen their quality of care and a majority believing it will drive up costs. Only 18 percent say Obamacare will improve their care. Among 18-to-29-year-olds currently without health insurance, less than one-third say they’re likely to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges. More than two-thirds of millennials said they heard about the ACA through the media. That’s a bad omen for Obamacare, given the intensive coverage of the law’s botched rollout. Just one of every four young Americans said they discussed the law with a friend or through social media. Harvard’s John Della Volpe, who conducted the poll, said the president has done a poor job explaining the ACA to young Americans.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Jon

    searching for meanings? that’s when things get wrong, really wrong if we’re searching for universal meanings. this culture is supposed to be individualistic. meaning and happiness are private and personal. What’s the urge to share yours with others?

  • Charles

    Where do I begin with this topic?
    I was born in 1982, and while I’m fortunate to have a job, and hopefully a stable career path, my lifetime earning potential has been undermined by spending most of the last decade working for less than I should have made. It’s obvious to me that I’m never going to retire. I’d like to be able to have a child or two, but even that might be another decade away, until I can get out from under some of my student loan debt.

    My generation is burdened with all of the massive spending that the government has incurred to win favor with our parents’ generation. I fully expect social security to be insolvent by the time I’m ready for it, thus negating all I will have paid into it.

    Our ‘leaders’ have conspired with the mega-corporations to entirely hijack our political and financial system. Most of my contemporaries agree that the way our country is working is entirely wrong, and rigged to favor the super-wealthy. Obamacare is a joke, it’s just a giant kickback to the insurance companies.

    All in all, though, Millennials have plenty to be thankful for. We are educated, healthy, and even if our mobility is limited, we will (hopefully) never endure the kind of suffering our forebears did.

  • creaker

    the golden age post WWII/US labor movement world, while dying for decades is pretty much dead and gone – millennials (meaning US citizen millennials, the change is very different when considered for global millennials) are boldly going forth where we’ve never gone before. We’re at a point where this generation (of course just talking about the 99%) will have much less economically than their parents. It will be interesting to see how they fill that void.

    • SlackerInc

      But this is just what people say every time after a recession. I bought it totally when Douglas Coupland made it a central theme of his book about my generation, the eponymous Generation X. But that ended up being forgotten once the ’90s started booming. Roger Ebert made a comment in a review of a movie in the early ’80s, in the wake of that tough recession, that we were entering an age of austerity, when we’d all have to do with less. And I’m sure people were saying it in the ’70s too, as the oil shock hit, the stock market stalled, and stagflation was the order of the day. Must have looked pretty grim compared to the go-go Sixties; yet that was the era of Millennials’ parents being younger than Millennials are today!

      Did you know median household income now is higher than it was when Bill Clinton cruised to reelection on the strength of the economy?

  • olderworker

    I think this is EXACTLY the way the Baby Boomers were when they were young!

    • JGC

      with the possible exception that Boomers were both more financially secure and financially naîve at that age.

      • olderworker

        I didn’t mean to suggest that everything was the same; simply that the Boomers ALSO wanted “meaning” in their work, as opposed to what they perceived their parents’ work had been like.

  • Coastghost

    ObamaFraud is, for the purposes of THIS program, then, a specific failure of the Boomers, correct? Right?

    • creaker

      Obamacare will loosen the requirement of getting and holding onto a corporate job just to have access to healthcare, allowing younger folk more paths to make a living.

  • J__o__h__n

    Hasn’t On Point focused on the Millenniums as a show topic several times before? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • skelly74

    Hopefully the everybody wins “good for you Tucker” generation can harness their indoctrinated optimism and help the pessimistic Gen X’ers clean up the toxic environment left by the reckless and narcissistic baby boomers.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    If nothing else, develop a healthy skepticism for the promises of politicians and the political class: that will serve you well as corruption and rent-seeking continue to pull the strings of government behind the scenes. That means insisting on a defined-contribution retirement plan (“give me the money NOW, instead of a promise that you can and will just alter later”), focusing on businesses that won’t be targeted for destruction by government or politically-connected corporations, treating higher education as the highly-profitable business it is rather than as the non-profit altruistic dream-fulfiller it claims to be, etc.

    Don’t give up your dreams or be entirely cynical; just be analytic and realistic about what older people tell you, because most of them aren’t looking out for your best interests but are instead trying to take advantage of your inexperience and naiveté.

    Finally, always remember that everything that comes out of a politician’s mouth is a lie. If politicians had something to offer people that they were voluntarily willing to pay for, they’d be running profitable businesses instead of funding their pet projects with tax dollars.

  • Edward Carney

    I’m sure this discussion would be more productive if it included millennials who AREN’T successful. It’s a bit upsetting to hear gainfully employed people talking about how success isn’t available. For my part, as a 28 year old, well-educated, abject failure, I’m not looking for “meaning” or “a new definition of success.” I’m looking for a way to survive from one year to the next.

  • Coastghost

    Portrayed here as “the most educated generation in history” (in the rank flattery accorded by the New York Times), Millennials could of course be the most educated generation in history lacking broad capacity for critical thought: it could well be the least intelligent educated generation in history, that is.
    Requisite specificity, please, as we hear the scintillating details flow from the lips of these informed spokespersons. (If today’s musical accompaniment is any evidence, Millennials earn an F on reconceptualization of popular music, they’ve only uncritically inherited the modes and styles of the Boomers.)

  • creaker

    Boomers and Gen-X’rs better plan for that fact that when they are older and need assistance, the millennials are going to have much less resources and options to help care for them.

  • J__o__h__n

    The Millennials can’t whine about what a disappointment Obama is to them as they didn’t show up to vote in the off year elections which resulted in Republicans taking control of the House and curbing his effectiveness.

  • Peter Lemieux

    Millennials have the lowest rates of gun ownership when compared to generations who came of age before them. Only some 20% of Millennials live in a household where a gun is present, down about ten percent compared to Generation X. Do your guests have any opinions about why this is? Do they think their attitudes toward guns will change as they age and form families?

    See: http://www.politicsbythenumbers.org/category/gun-violence/

    • James

      I’m not sure that’s a big deal,

      1. You really can’t own a gun if you are living on campus.
      2. They don’t have the funds to buy a gun
      3. They are more urban oriented then other groups
      4. They are still young, as they are subjected to random acts of violence (as people in all groups are over time) they will buy guns.

  • Courtney

    I’m a 27 year old clinical social worker living in Boston and have thought a lot about privilege in my search for a meaningful career. I’m drawn towards “helping professions” because I’m passionate about people and making a difference, but I notice some dischord between what I see as the purpose of a career and why my parents see. I grew up middle-class in the suburbs and my parents’ careers were build towards giving our family a good life and education. I want something different from my career and I recognize the privilege of being able to choose a job that I’m passionate about. I wonder if my desire for this type of fulfillment is a marker of my generation.

  • Edward Carney

    Television and film examples like “Girls” demonstrate a complete lack of representation for poor or lower middle class millennials. It’s a lot easier to criticize a sense of entitlement and laziness when the conversation is focused on people – fictional or not – who clearly have an abundance of opportunity.

    • James

      I agree, the problem is that the creator Lena Dunham is 27, and I don’t think she is trying to negatively portray millennial in her show

  • James

    It’s odd, I don’t really think of my identity when I am with my friends as millennial. Some of them are struggling, some of them aren’t. A lot of them are employed in health care, directly or indirectly, so that I guess that is meaningful work. A couple of my friends work for major corporations that don’t, but they seem to like there jobs none the less.

  • Casey Culver

    I’m 32 and I can say that we’re not struggling! What’s going on in Central African Republic is struggle. Trying to start a band or be a photographer is not struggle.

    And going to college and doing your work is not “paying your dues.” Hard work is honing your skills and figuring out how they can better society and be of value. Simply going to school, going to college, and doing your work is lazy – you have to think, you have to figure it out!

  • Coastghost

    “Sophisticated television” fare depicts the valiant struggles and heady challenges faced by Millennials? We might save time and concede right away that Millennial idealism is crumbling as we speak and that a decade of cynicism, pessimism, and nihilism will result directly from these cruelly quashed dreams. (Millennials DO still watch “The Simpsons” avidly, no?)

  • http://theholylance.com Nick Cox

    Millennials have the opportunity to radically reinvent what it means to be successful in America. I know some incredibly talented, hard-working young people putting all their energy into art, music and other non-lucrative pursuits, while having a day job. To make a living while devoting yourself to doing what you love – that’s the new American dream.

    • Edward Carney

      Yes, and it’s not easy to obtain. The difficult part of that equation isn’t pursuing your dream, it’s finding a day job. Without that baseline of economic security, a higher meaning of success is, in fact, meaningless.

      • http://theholylance.com Nick Cox

        Yes, it’s REALLY hard. I’m definitely not there yet.

  • bilbo44

    I think one has to look at the reality of the current situation in the United States and the world. The US is no longer kingdom on the mountain. The world is change with globalization, expansion of workforce and middle class in countries like India and China have caused major structural changes within the United States. In addition to this we have to look at some of the structural changes that have happened over the years in the United States and what is caused what people call inequality of income. One family values, unwed mothers. Technical skills that are required. In addition there may be a limitation of the good jobs that would be available for the number of people coming out of college. People who have not graduated from high school have a slim and zero chance of achieving any economic success in our society. Unfortunate reality in the world today not only in this country but around the world is individuals need skills. Brain power is more important than manpower in our current society.
    Thank you Bilbo

  • dek

    My wife and I (born 1986 and 1987) have been together for over a decade, and have supported each other greatly. We’re in a good spot, largely because of our relationship.

    However, I don’t see similar relationships among most of my peers. I’d be curious about changes in relationships and sexual practices between generations, and how that relates to both economic opportunities and personal outlooks.

  • James

    In my experience the idea that millennials are lazy is baloney, entitled? maybe But only to the point that we want what we were promised

  • James

    I feel like this is a list of cliches about any group of 20 somethings. I’m out

    That being said my predictions for the future as millennial step into power.
    1. More Libertarian Republicans
    2. More Crowd funding

    • Charles

      I know exactly how you feel.
      I’ve heard all this already, I know it too well.

      One thing is for sure, nobody older has any sympathy for us.

  • Casey

    So, Tom Ashbrook wants to go sail a boat. I say, “Go for it!” You are never too old to follow your dreams. Plus, it will open up a job for one of those deluded millennials as a radio host at NPR.

    One of the most annoying aspects of these stories is the condescending attitude of pundits, with their cushy jobs, about the younger generations having dreams of obtaining fulfilling jobs.

  • Edward Carney

    It’s not everybody’s responsibility to be “a creative entrepreneur.” The world still needs employees to service other people’s ideas.

  • SherylT

    Are they learning that mommy and daddy were doing them a disservice by telling them how wonderful they are? Welcome to reality kids!

  • Casey Culver

    I’m just tired of this narrative.

  • Coastghost

    Millennials are indignant? is this the working equivalent of “simply and sadly unrealistic”? I ask, because daily I encounter Millennials modeling cell phone stupidity, whether they’ve driving poorly or parking themselves in the middle of a downtown sidewalk. I am not satisfied with these generous imputations of sophistication and vast intelligence: why the same stupid music? why the same stupid fascination with the latest techno-marvels? I don’t see or hear evidence that Millennials are even engaged in any domain where original or critical thought is esteemed.

  • Coastghost

    No “relative scarcity” of mobile phones for Millennials. All those handy consumer apps . . . .

  • Nate K

    Seems like everyone else kinda gets that it isn’t our generation in power. I think Ms. Smith said it actually. We are in general choosing to make our own way for a number of reasons. I am working in arts administration with a masters and teachers license in music. In teaching I’ve found schools tend to hire cheap over credentials even in a state where a masters degree is supposedly required for full certification. I take plenty of interviews but the only option that works is my own initiative. I make no where near enough to pay back my education. It’s not a matter of broken promises, it’s a matter of greed and academics for academics sake masked as career readiness. Perhaps that can also be debated. Have a blast!

  • Jon

    quite impressed many people are saying “we’re delusional”

  • Doctsc

    It’s astounding for me to hear that these young people are being judged as selfish and materialistic!! This by their parents’ generation, which above and sometimes to the exclusion of all else concentrated on feathering their own nests….

    • Miles Howard

      Nailed it.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      The thing with a selfish and materialistic society, is that only a small minority of people have the privilege of being being selfish and materialistic. Most people are suppose to be attentive servants who are mired in religious or secular self-denial. In our society, there’s a correlation between wealth accumulation, the privilege of being selfish and materialistic , and seniority. What the parents are concerned with is that their children are not playing their proper role–the role of being attentive servants to them. How are their retirement funds suppose to grow if the younger generations they are suppose to profit off of, are asking for higher wages or opting not to work as hard ?

  • carl_christian

    I’d like to hear Darrell speak about the politics & the economic vision that he and his cohort might be thinking about — since I think he has nailed the most accurate statement so far, “Welcome to being a minority…it’s never been easy in America for some of us…” — This is what American capitalism is going to lead to for just about everybody if we don’t radically change our system & good luck to the planet & our environment if we don’t do it quickly. Forget your grandkids having any kind of a ‘good’ life!

  • Coastghost

    Untethered idealism, meet untethered optimism! Untethered optimism, meet untethered idealism!

  • Edward Carney

    No bitterness? Talk to the lower classes.

    • Miles Howard

      Seriously. Millennials from lower income brackets – who can’t *afford* to be lazy and entitled – have all but been eclipsed from the national conversation. Tom and his guests actually touched upon this today, which I was really heartened to hear.

  • Jon

    being hopeful as an ending message is good. to “save the nation or change the world” is delusional.

  • AF_Whigs

    I’m a Gen Xer and just as I balked at all the generalizations about my generation, I feel the same about this conversation. While it may be interesting to look at the current state of the world through the eyes of a certain age group, there is simply no way to summarize and accurately represent the experience of an entire generation of people.

    • Edward Carney

      Truer words have ne’er been spoken. When will people understand this? Generalizations are rarely, if ever, helpful, whether it be of races, genders, or age groups.

  • Rayburn Clipper

    I feel bad for the Millennials, they are going to have to fix all this stuff that the Boomers and “Greatest Generation” Stuck us with. I’m a Gen x’er, and have always hated how those 2 generations are over looked as being the worst Generations in the world because of how much trouble they have cause on the planet since the 1930′s.

  • alex gambino

    I hope that we don’t forget how we feel now when we’re 50 and that we can give opportunities to the generation born 2000-2020.

    • Edward Carney

      Good comment. Unfortunately, if previous generations are any indication, we will. There’s an insidious tendency to judge new generations by the standards of one’s own. Someday, we’ll feel like we’ve got it all figured out, and then we’ll wondered why the struggling disillusioned youngsters around us don’t just do what we did, and follow our advice, and share in our rewards. We will think this without fully realizing that the world has changed since our time. It’s a big part of the reason why millennials were led to such unobtainable expectations. Boomers decided that a college degree and a strong work ethic was the ticket to unbridled success in their time, so they raised their children to believe the same would be true of theirs.

      • Miles Howard

        I worry about that too. However, something to keep in mind is that we might *not* figure everything out within the next decade. If the economists are right about our generation having a lower standard of living than our parents (which seems pretty certain, at this point), perhaps our outlook as middle-aged adults will be more informed by humility and, dare I say it, even solidarity.

        • Edward Carney

          Possibly. But it’s also important to recognize that projected economic outcomes include an even broader gap between rich and poor. Some millennials will be enormously successful when they’re older, and those will be the ones who are in a better position to judge the younger generation and contribute to the outcomes of members thereof.

  • Miles Howard

    I’m a Millennial and I’ve spent the past year traveling across America and interviewing fellow Millennials for a book I’m working on (driveallnight.org) – here’s what I’ve found:

    Most of the Millennials I spoke with are completely disillusioned with the efficacy of our economy. They see the cost of living and the disastrous job market as severely detrimental to their future standard of living. Forget any dreams of a white picket fence, two cars, or a vacation home in Maine. The people I met just want to pay their bills and go out for a nice dinner every now and then without worrying about overdrawing their checking accounts.

    That feeling of disenfranchisement extends to government, and here’s where the split comes in. For every Millennial I met who argued the solution was to walk away from government and create a more grassroots, entrepreneurially-driven economy, I met at least two others who said we need to look at our political infrastructure and make some serious repairs: namely, business regulation, tax reform, revitalized social safety nets, and stricter campaign finance rules. Basically, the Millennials I interviewed are negotiating a future of “every dog for himself” or informed populism.

    You can read some of these interviews at driveallnight.org

    • Edward Carney

      I wouldn’t even mind going without the nice dinners.

      I actually appreciate your plugging your site here. It looks like you have good reason to do so. One question that comes to mind about your political observations is, are you saying that this is emblematic of the current generation in a way that wasn’t true of those that preceded it? Have you compared your statistics to those of the broader population and found that the libertarian/populist divide is stronger among relatively young people than among those who are older, or for that matter, among earlier generations when they themselves were younger?

      • Miles Howard

        I’ve done some comparisons and the Millennial split is rather emblematic of the *current* political divide in America, but not necessarily the divisions that existed during the Reagan through Clinton years. Centrism is going the way of the dinosaurs, and since Millennials will ultimately be the ones who determine what direction our government goes in for the next several decades, I have a feeling the hyper-partisanship that’s still gridlocking congress is actually going to get more vehement as our generation starts determining policy. We’re going to live through some fundamental changes, one way or the other.

        • Miles Howard

          This isn’t unique to America, though. Economic panic almost always facilitates political radicalism. Look what’s happening in Greece and France right now.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            and the Middle East, where political Islam’s popularity depends on young men who can’t find living wage jobs. Unemployed or underemployed young men, regardless of their religion are a problem in that region. Overpopulation sucks.

        • Edward Carney

          I agree that the political divide is likely to worsen. I surmise that it’s attributable to more than just economic panic, though. I think mass media and information technology account for part of the trend. It’s easier than ever for leaders to get real-time snapshots of the views of their political base and try to match their rhetoric and policy positions to that information. At the same time, constituents know their candidates’ stated positions long before they have any time to analyze the results, so knee-jerk reactions are more strongly encouraged than in times when information spread more slowly. Millennials, by virtue of being more familiar with these media and technologies, will probably not do much to counteract them when they’re in power.

    • Boston_mom

      Really interesting project. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m on the youngish side of Gen X or not, but I definitely spent my entire 20s and at least half my 30s (and i’m still in late 30s) feeling the same way about wishing I could pay bills without worrying about overdrawing the checking account. That struggle has to have been compounded post-recession, as young graduates with lots of education and piles of student debt are told they don’t have the right credentials, enough experience, or that they’re overeducated. The prevalent bootstraps mentality has to be really discouraging, which would seem to fuel that every dog for himself outlook.

  • Malia

    I often feel as if Gen X’ers (my generation) have totally been forgotten in the talk about generations. There aren’t any radio programs or PBS specials devoted to our experience. We were the latch-key generation, a generation who experienced a lot of divorce and the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic. But we are also hard workers (if a bit cynical) who want to make (and have made!) a difference in the world. Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about us?

    • Boston_mom

      We’re too small to talk about from a business standpoint. We as a group lack the buying and voting power of the larger generations we’re sandwiched between. It’s tough to swallow, but I think that’s the reason. We are the very first generation not expected to out-earn our parents. And while the economy has delivered a huge blow to us, it’s probably generally tougher overall for inexperienced millennials embarking on careers, or those boomers who have lost jobs and are being forced prematurely out of the labor and hiring market due to their ages. When you compare our unemployment numbers with the other generations, again, we’re small. Not sure what it looks like on a percentage basis, though that would be interesting to look at. But I think the mindset of those hiring is – again, generally – that our group is the more desirable because we have a good decade of experience under our belts but will not hit retirement age anytime soon. I think the mindset of elected officials is to pay less attention to us because our voting numbers are relatively small. That all plays out in the coverage (or lack of) that Gen Xers get.

      • twenty_niner

        We were the first generation to be handed a “service economy”. I remember they started selling this crap back in the 80s in school. We’ll be a nation of lawyers. I’ll sue you; you sue me. We both get paid, perfect.

        Of course, that didn’t work, so now we’re a “consumer economy”, where we all just need to keep buying stuff from China, put it in a storage locker, mortgage the house, and buy more stuff. But don’t forget to throw that stuff out to make room for other stuff.

        In between there, we were a “housing economy”. Housing prices always go up. We can all just flip houses.

        That didn’t work either. Hmmm. But then they came up with most brilliant solution of all. Bernanke was watching “To Live and Die in LA” one night and realized we can cut out all of the farting around and just print money. And we lived happily ever after,

    • The poster formerly known as t

      I’m curious as to what difference that Generation X has made as a group.

      • MordecaiCarroll

        The combo of Gen X’ers and Millennials has helped the country make strides in tolerance (acceptance of gay marriage) and as well as in attitudes towards gender roles (moms and dads sharing more equally in the care of children, etc.). To even float the idea of gay marriage 30 years ago was unthinkable. Now it seems inevitable that the whole country will eventually accept it (it’s just a matter of when).

        The initial adoption of social media as well as the development of web culture in general was largely driven by Gen X’ers and Millennials. I’m not claiming that gen X’ers and Millennials invented the internet – Tim Berners Lee was a Boomer – but it was their embrace of the web that helped make it what it is today (for good and for ill).

        From the tone of your comment, I’m guessing odds are good that you will be unimpressed by contributions of this sort. But the fact that Gen X’ers and Millennials don’t have any huge signature accomplishments or events (like the Greatest generation’s WWII) is mostly testament to Boomers’ continued huge influence and their continued preponderant place in leadership roles in both business and government.

        Also, I think it’s important to keep in mind that during the time Gen X’ers and Millennials have been old enough to work, America has seen a succession of boom and bust cycles. Basically, all periods of supposed “prosperity” between 1980 and today have been illusory/ based on unsustainable bubbles, not on any real economic health/strength

        • The poster formerly known as t

          No, I’m not impressed. Unless you’re a sociologist, I don’t think you can ascribe credit for gay rights to the two generations mentioned. I don’t see a lot to be proud of– just a bunch of passive consumers who are clueless about the world around them.

          • MordecaiCarroll

            “just a bunch of passive consumers who are clueless about the world around them. ” Who’s playing sociologist here?

          • The poster formerly known as t

            This is from my own personal experience. Most of them just want to go to college, get a good job, and embark on an energy and resource intensive lifestyle despite the posturing about being green and organic.

          • MordecaiCarroll

            Sorry, but I’m not necessarily convinced that your personal experience of people in those generations is wide enough to base such incredibly sweeping assumptions on.

            Reminds me a bit of David Brooks’ approach to sociology. He thinks seeing something outside his hotel window makes him perfectly qualified to make sweeping statements about how “ordinary Americans going to Applebee’s” live.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            I think my “sweeping generalizations” are more grounded than your attempt to give millennials credit for increased tolerance of homosexuality or the acceptance of the internet.

          • MordecaiCarroll

            Grounded in what? What your “gut” tells you?

            I have a feeling we’re not going to agree on this. We’re wasting each others’ time, no?

          • MordecaiCarroll

            Pray tell us, o Arbiter of Quality Generations, which generation you hail from?

          • The poster formerly known as t

            Does it matter? I think all this talk about generational achievement is stupid. Why is one generation being judged in a good light by the actions of a tiny minority? However, I think the negative, the passive consumer accusations by me of the Millenials is somewhat accurate.

  • sikhinc81

    I am a Millenial, and I feel extremely disillusioned with the way things have gone in our country since graduating college and grad school. I was working my way up in a major American corporation when the recession hit, and I lost my job. I was hired back, and then proceeded to do the job of 3 people. I had just had a baby, and the stress got to be too much. I had to quit and stay at home with my child. I find that there are a huge group of female Millenials who kind of fell into the traditional ‘housewife’ role. Not because we aspired to this, but because we were pushed that way in an uncertain economy. The previous generations of women were prepared to stay at home, and expected to do so. However, I find that there are many women out there just like me, who are educated, ambitious and intelligent women, but who have had to put family first rather than toiling away at a meaningless establishment job. The cost is too much these days to work in American business, where you are under appreciated and could be let go with any shift in the wind of the economy. It’s interesting that women are going back to the traditional roles out of necessity and complete antipathy towards corporate America.

    • Boston_mom

      I appreciate this comment very much and agree with much of it, but would have to contend the notion that the previous generation of women were expected to and prepared to stay home and raise children. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t been true since the Boomer or even pre-Boomer generation. I’m on the younger side of that previous generation – a Gen-Xer (c. 1974) who works full-time from home, in large part, because I’m not paid enough to justify child care. It’s difficult and can be very isolating. It’s not exactly how I saw my late-30s career taking shape. I definitely sympathize with you and all others trying to forge a new career through this economy, especially in light of starting a new family. I think what you are experiencing is probably more applicable to men than it’s ever been as well. I know plenty of Gen X and millennial men who are – in contrast with traditional roles – the primary caregivers in their household out of necessity, not choice.

  • twenty_niner

    Another chart that shows the boomers doing what they do best – taking care of themselves:

    …and leaving one colossal mess for the rest of us that will be utterly impossible to fix:


    • jimino

      I suppose they could stop working and live on their guaranteed-income pensions, or maybe their high- interest-earning savings, like their predecessors in the greatest generation did.

      Oh, that’s right, virtually nobody in the private sector has such a pension and savings now earn no interest.

      Get the picture?

      • twenty_niner

        The greatest generation made it through the great depression and then turned around and fought and won WWII. Then they built the companies that provided those pensions – companies that built things, in the United States.

        They built; boomers consume. And now we have a completely unsustainable economy based on consumption and ever-expanding debt to fund ever expanding consumption. Baby boomers invented mc-mansions, not their parents, who saved more than they spent and lived modestly.

        And what happened with that wonderful boomer invention called the “service economy”; not working out so hot is it?

        “and savings now earn no interest.”

        You can thank the Fed (and other central banks) for that. Speaking of “getting pictures”, here’s another interesting one courtesy of the Fed:

    • The poster formerly known as t

      Here’s what the graph isn’t telling you:
      1. They’re living longer than ever before.
      2. Less people are having children.Therefore, the population is most likely aging over the last 13 years.

      On a macroeconomic level, despite the perception that we have no respect for our elders, in the U.S.A.,
      more money is spent housing and caring for the elderly than preparing the next generation to carry the torch.
      Not that we do a good job of either thing, mind you.

  • JGC


  • JGC


    Millennials, here are your representatives in Congress who want to address your issues. Contact them with your concerns.

  • The poster formerly known as t

    I think one of the three situations might apply to you.

    1. You’re hiring the wrong people to fill your positions.
    Many employers like to peruse people who DON’T NEED a job for some reason.

    2. There isn’t enough work to justify the hours you’re asking for.

    3. You’re paying less in comparison to the competition
    so they expect you to give up ground on hours.

  • hdesignr

    Speaking as a ‘millennial’ I see that this generation fell for a lie that all would fall into place perfectly, a lie that included life doesn’t include struggles. To me, this generation doesn’t understand the definition of struggle.

    • Sy2502

      You may blame your parents for that. All those times they told you how special you were, and all the times they solved your problems instead of letting you work them out didn’t prepare you for the real world.

  • Sy2502

    Cheer up, every young person in every time in history thought they would make a difference in the world. Then they grow up.

  • Sy2502

    I was worried that a generation that received anything and everything from their helicopter parents would, now, look for a helicopter government. But then I read their attitude toward Obamacare and felt more hopeful.

  • Jen R

    For me, this comment by scholastica8 in the NYT’s comment section of Emily’s Op piece really expresses my sentiments: “Sometimes I think it comes down to a question of whether or not the
    purpose or meaning of our lives really has any value. When you begin to
    come up against that one in a world that is increasingly complex, with
    rising populations, and worsening environmental & economic
    conditions for the vast majority, you begin to doubt the ultimate
    benefit of your own existence. One begins to question whether or not
    anything you do really makes a difference or has a lasting benefit.”

  • Miss_Lilianna

    Thanks for the story on white upper middle class millenials.

Sep 17, 2014
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

The NFL’s Adrian Peterson and the emotional debate underway about how far is too far to go when it comes to disciplining children.

Sep 17, 2014
Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment