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It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave - NYTimes.com


Stashed in: Economics, Parents, Young Americans, Economics!, America!

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Boomerang is now an official stage of life:

She has been living in that old bedroom for four years and is nowhere closer to figuring out what she’s going to do with her career. “Everyone tells me to just pick something,” she says, “but I don’t know what to pick.”

This time, things really are different:

Millennials’ parents could be forgiven for underestimating the consequences of these trends. For most of American history, it was natural for each generation to become richer than the previous one. Now that’s no longer true. These changes created a new, far less predictable dynamic — some people would do much better than their parents could have ever dreamed; others would fall permanently behind. Given the volatility of the changes, the idea of an “average” worker was becoming obsolete. And while much of the discussion about economic inequality has centered on the top 1 percent, it’s the gap between the top 20 percent and the rest that’s more salient to young people. “That is a dividing point,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. People in the top 20 percent of income — roughly $100,000 in 2013 — have taken nearly all the economic gains of the past 40 years. (Of course, the top 1 percent and, even more so, the top 0.01 percent, has taken a far more disproportionate share).

There are two economies in America:

This uncomfortable fact, which many economists have recently accepted, suggests that we are living not simply in an unequal society but rather in two separate, side-by-side economies. For those who can crack the top 20 percent, there is great promise. Most people in that elite group, Rank told me, will spend at least part of their careers among the truly affluent, earning more than $250,000 a year. For those at work in the much larger pool, there will be falling or stagnant wages and far greater uncertainty. A college degree is an advantage, but it no longer offers any guarantee, especially for those who graduate from lower-ranked for-profit schools. These days, a degree is merely the expensive price of admission. In 1970 only one in 10 Americans had a bachelor’s degree, and nearly all could expect a comfortable career. Today, about a third of young adults will earn a four-year-degree, and many of them — more than a third, by many estimates — are unlikely to find lifelong secure employment sufficient to pay down their debt and place them on track to earn more than their parents. If they want a shot at making it into the top 20 percent, they now need to learn a skill before they get a job. And for many, even with their parents’ help, that’s going to be an impossibility.

Yes! Sadly.

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