The generation known as millennials, those who reside between the ages of 20 and 34, exhibit a most interesting pattern of dependence that deviates from former generations. While most children from recent previous generations were chomping at the bit and could not wait to leave the nest, millennials increasingly choose to remain at home or return to live with their parents once again. According to TIME, these sorts of statistics have not been seen since the 1940’s. Reasons cited for this return to post Great Depression statistics include an increased average age for getting married and a general decrease in economic stability. Yet, critics of the trends emerging among millennial wage earners indicate that something more nefarious is likely at play.
Wage stagnation, which occurs when average hourly wages do not increase with the increase in overall economic growth, is perhaps the greater indicator of why millennials get the sense that striking out on their own is not financially feasible. In simple terms, the cost of living is on the rise but the wages being earned remains the same. In essence, this means that the rich corporate owners are keeping the bulk of the afore mentioned profits, those arising from the increase in economic growth, within their own corporate coffers. Some fear this trend is intended to ultimately eliminate the middle class on a massive scale as the gap between the ultra rich and the ultra poor continues to widen at an alarming rate. According to this source, the reasons driving this wage stagnation arises more from intentional detrimental policy making by those with the greatest wealth and political power, rather than from slumping economic factors. In other words, those with the greatest means are making policies for the “have nots”, which ultimately ensures that a growing number of struggling millennials will not be able to strike out on their own. According to YesMagazine, it becomes essential to bring back the negotiating power that the labor force enjoyed before the 1980’s, when such actions as fully organized union strikes were utilized to force business owners to bend corporate policy to meet union demands. Only then will it be possible to normalize wage earnings back to a liveable range for millennials and subsequent generations. Until this happens, millennials are basically forced to share resources with their families or sink financially if that is not an option.
As a means to cope with the current lagging financial environment, living at home provides millennials with the opportunity to survive while putting some money back for future needs. For those who do not have access to this luxury, even renting out a garage that has been modified to serve as a bedroom is often a lower cost option than trying to sustain monthly apartment rental rates. To make this option available, homeowners need to do a proper clean up, upgrade the garage with insulating door and place furniture to accommodate the modification of their garage for this purpose. Though such living conditions may not seem ideal to those who are used to having their own place, it should be realized that millennials are not as familiar with the idealism of those who have appreciated the luxury of financial stability necessary for living independently. According to article posted here, in order to scrape by and perhaps to even remove some of the stress of living at home, the couchsurfing app provides millennials with a community of people who freely let others sleep on their couch or use their free rooms to crash for the night. The fact that millennials are this adaptive in their shared resource-based living arrangements may itself be a sign of how something must give in order to bring financial stability back to the average wage earner. It is a continuing situation that causes many to wonder if politicians and business owners alike are in touch with the reality of the living conditions their questionable policies are ultimately responsible for heaping on millennials and others struggling to carve out a meaningful existence for themselves.
No one ever said that life would be easy. This has been a generation defining issue for millennials across the board. As an increasing number of millennials seek to keep their head above water financially, they find little support from politicians and business owners who appear to believe that an endless trend of wage stagnation is acceptable for these modern times. To adapt, millennials have had to learn to live cheaply and share resources with family and others to survive their working years: a time in which they should be thriving to secure the means to provide for their own children and better manage through their fast approaching retirement years.