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Do millennials really face the ‘scariest financial future’

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

When I graduated in 1973, unemployment was crazy. There was a war going on and we were all worried about being drafted.

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When we complained to our parents, “what are we going to do,” they responded: “We lived through a depression and won the second world war, you’re on your own.”

Now it’s the millennials’ turns to hold baby boomers into account.

Michael Hobbes wrote a piece for The Huffington Post that starts out by saying millennials are “facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.”

“Is it outlandish to expect a kind of secure existence?” he asked Seattle’s Morning News. “A lot of the forces that people kind of blame the current situation on — things like globalization and technology — you have these same factors in other countries … yet, you don’t have the insecurity, you don’t have the high housing cost, you have subsidized housing; you have a social safety net. A lot of these things, the way we’ve responded to the big glacial forces in the world, are unique to America.”

My college tuition was $2,500 per semester at Cornell University, which my parents could easily pay for. I could pay for my own housing. No chance doing that today. I think we’re going to have to deal with this because we’re moving toward an economy where you’re never going to need as many laborers as you used to need.

Hobbes says that could be a factor. Even in sectors where you do need a lot of labor — health care, for example — there is a bifurcation — a division — of the workforce. More companies are hiring contract employees to cut costs, rather than have more full-time employees.

“You see this bifurcation where people are just on the edge of subsistence while industries are doing really well. Whether or not we’re an economy that produces more jobs or fewer jobs, the jobs we are producing just aren’t good anymore. And I think that’s the problem we need to start dealing with.”

Of course, it may soon pay off to be a contract employee, thanks to the tax reform.

According Hobbes, the country needs to:

  • Reduce barriers getting into job market
  • Make college free, at least for low income students
  • Forgive student debt, or at least make it tax deductible
  • Reduce occupational licenses
  • Make all employees (contract or not) cost the same
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