Go ahead, say your worst about millennials. Use the word "entitlement" if you must. Talk about participation trophies, useless college degrees, money management, laziness, etc., and by all means compare them unfavorably to earlier generations. Then read the first-person piece by Michael Hobbes—at 35, the oldest of millennials—at Highline. With a mixture of stats and individual narratives, including his own, he makes the case under a headline of "Millennials Are Screwed" that the plight of his generation is much worse, and far more complicated, than most people realize. Yes, a part of the problem is that millennials graduated into a severe recession, but that's just a small part of the story. "What we are living through now, and what the recession merely accelerated, is a historic convergence of economic maladies, many of them decades in the making."
It's about the disappearance of jobs and the emergence of "contract" workers who toil at low pay without job security or benefits. It's about soaring housing prices and stratospheric college costs, factors contributing to the alarming stat that one in five millennials live in poverty. "Decision by decision, the economy has turned into a young people-screwing machine," writes Hobbes. "And unless something changes, our calamity is going to become America’s." Hobbes ends with suggestions for change, from housing reform, to fairer working conditions, to millennials getting more involved in politics. "We can let our economic infrastructure keep disintegrating and wait to see if the rising seas get us before our social contract dies," he writes. "Or we can build an equitable future that reflects our values and our demographics and all the chances we wish we'd had." Read the full piece. (Read more millennials stories.)