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Trapped in debt: 3 reasons why geny is still stuck in an economic slump

Author: Andrea Fisher
Published: Oct 2 2013

Next time you walk into a coffee shop, take a good look at the barista. Oftentimes, it’s a twenty-something college graduate who is working behind the counter to make you that perfect specialty latte. Now, take a closer look.

Sharp, keen eyes are masking something deeper - something almost troubling.

There’s a variety of situations at play: a mountain of student debt, personal bills, dismal job prospects, etc. Regardless of which, they all hang over a person’s head, like a noose. The life envisioned remains on the backburner.

Many in GenY face variants of this fictional scenario.

The harsh reality is that these "boomerang kids," who supposedly depend on their parents for everything, are at a financial standstill— while the economy around them continues to bounce back.

Quite simply, GenY-ers are the stunted financial bi-products of the Great Recession of 2008. And things haven’t been too friendly for them ever since.

1. An Uninviting Economy, Created by the Recession

Before the recession hit, people were living the American dream; and then the economy began to nosedive— in what seemed to be overnight.

The recession officially began in December 2007 and lasted until June 2009.

In this time period, the economy plummeted: banks stopped giving out loans easily; credit card debt soared; the housing bubble burst and houses were repossessed; corporations regularly laid-off employees; benefits were slashed; college tuitions went up— virtually everyone in the U.S. was affected.

GenY represents adults who haven’t really experienced financial stability for themselves.

When "released" into the world, the U.S. economy was crumbling under the weight of the recession. They were greeted by financial stagnation and limited financial prospects.

And despite the economic uncertainties, GenY is still expected to stay on a traditional life track: to get an education, marry and start a family. Instead, the current- economic scenario has GenY living in survival mode— taking things as they come; paycheck-to paycheck.

2. Coping with the Cost of Living

As the recession continued to run the U.S. dry, the cost of living continued to increase. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), current gas prices about $3.38 per-gallon. Before 2005, the average gas price was $1.78 per-gallon.

Even fast food chains have spiked their prices. In 2002, a Big Mac from McDonald’s was $2.39; now, that price is $4.19— a 75% increase.

People are driven to save at all costs; flocking to valuable, yet inexpensive commodities like satellite TV packages.

There hasn’t been a simple solution to help curb inflation.

3. Entering a Difficult & Overly Competitive Job Market

College graduates in GenY initially entered college and tech schools full of promising expectations. Years later, after spending thousands of dollars on tuition and hours studying for exams, graduates walked away from universities with little more to show than a diploma.

According to the American Student Assistance organization, a startling 60% of college students incurred student loan debt.

So, amid the recession, landing a job was like winning the golden ticket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Businesses found ways on how to monitor employees and scaled down to improve their budgets. GenY lost their childhood innocence; and ‘unemployment’ became a word much more fearful than anything hiding under the bed.

GenY continues to be financially behind by years those in previous years. According to an Economic Institute report on CNBC, this year’s 2013 college graduates are already financially behind by 10-15 years.

Debt and financial instability are constant themes for GenY. Whether some would like to call it a "failure to launch," GenY simply reached adulthood during the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression.

Looking Towards the Future

Throughout this next promising economic upturn, hopefully this is the chance for the Baby Boomers to let GenY have a shot at success.

Serving lattes at near minimum wage can only last for so long. For the college degrees that are collecting dust, it’s time they get hung in an office. Moving out of the home basement and into a new place needs to be more than wishful thinking for those in their twenties.

Luckily, new economic forecasts predict a break in the nation’s financial slump. 2014 is projected to have growth of up to 3.5 %; however, looking back at the course of events, it’s no wonder that GenY is still scrambling to gain their financial bearings.

Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist from North Carolina. She has a B.A. in English and minor in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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