There's an Internet generational brawl to determine which cohort has it worse-off. The battle started when Noreen Malone from team Millennial wrote an opus for New York, both excusing and explaining her generation's "issues." Her thesis: Millennials have to become adults during a horrible recession, and they're actually making the best of it. This ticked off Gen X-er Mat Honan, who posted a counter rant on his personal Tumblr, which Gizmodo reposted: "Generation X is tired of your sense of entitlement. Generation X also graduated during a recession. It had even shittier jobs." This diatribe inspired another to speak up, Rolling Stone's Doree Shafrir, who argues over at Slate on behalf of her underrepresented group: Generation Catalano, a name for the babies born between Gen X and the Millennials (or, roughly, during the Carter Administration) named for Jared Leto's character on My So-Called Life. While each has excuses for why its generation just can't get its act together, in the classical sense of the term, which generation really has it worse off? You be the judge.
The Excuses: Of course Millennials look like a bunch of dead-beats, there are no jobs to be had, explains Malone. "Being young is supposed to mean you have the luxury of time. But in hard times, a few fallow years can become a lifetime drag on what you earn, sort of the opposite of compound interest," writes Malone. In fact this whole recession will screw Millennials for life, Malone continues. "Because the average person grabs 70 percent of their total pay bumps during their first ten years in the workforce, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, having stagnant or nonexistent wages during that period means you hit that springboard at a crawl." Of course other generations have weathered less-than stellar economic climates, but this ones worse, she argues.
And so we find ourselves living among the scattered ashes and spilled red wine and broken glass from a party we watched in our pajamas, peering down the stairs at the grown-ups. This is not a morning after we are prepared for, to judge by the composite sketch sociologists have drawn of us.
A bunch of dead-beats. Beyond the whole recession thing, Malone points to the classic Millennial self-esteem trait: "We are self-centered and convinced of our specialness and unaccustomed to being denied." As this sense of self collides with poor job suspects, it denies hard working over-achievers the glory previous generations of type A winners had. But whose fault is that really? "Generation X is tired of your sense of entitlement," argues Honan. And Generation X also had it worse off than its parents, as Honan points out, linking to a Brookings report.