I defer to a piece from Who is IOZ? (in reaction to another in a continuing series of vapid “generational observation pieces” in various media, this one from Slate) to explain the situation in which young people entering (or relatively new to) the current American work force are up against:
What they conspicuously fail to do is to cast their eyes toward yonder economy, except to make a vaguely Friedmanian observation that iPads mean you have to go to college or else you will never get hired. Hey, maybe decades of downward pressure on real wages, the destruction of even the tissue of socially guaranteed retirement, and the artificial extension of the duration of the working life in response to these pressures has created a paucity of demand for new labor that has made economic independence economically unobtainable for young people. I’m just, you know, throwin’ it out there. Maybe the near-total absence of even subsistence-level wages for people without an at-minimum four-year program of educational debt-indenturage is driving the upticking of the age of marriage and the formation of independent households just as much as “social acceptance of premarital sex.” I’m just, you know, sayin’. Maybe the general trend of our society at all but the highest levels of class and income, which are principally inherited anyway, is toward debt-and-wage-peonage that is gradually reducing the viability of the independent household to exist at all.
Not much I can add. Anyway… look carefully. Orders (social and otherwise) tend to form themselves out of existing reality, whether they are the “official” narrative or not… whether it be young people in an era of artificial scarcity caused by insanely unequal and unfair income and wealth and power distributions moving in with Mom and Dad, or the fact that Mom and Dad, fearful of a world where my college classmate has decided that a good book deal, speaking engagements and post-presidency gigs from people like Pete Peterson and his buddies are all more important than allowing stupid working people their dignified retirements (let alone “security”… of any kind). Naturally, the people “on the ground” fortunate enough to have jobs will be extending their own working lives, possibly indefinitely, thereby effectively crowding out the opportunities available for twenty-somethings… well, people just manage to adjust to reality is all I’m saying… good, bad, or otherwise.
And times, they are a changin’.