On the eve of my 25-year college reunion, something struck me in a recent article in the Washington Post, something that made me take notice:
The first decade of the 21st century produced two recessions and two “jobless recoveries,” and when it was over, the vast majority of Americans found themselves no better off than they were a quarter-century ago.
This is the career landscape into which I and my classmates graduated. Hopes of finding meaningful work have all but evaporated over time. We are now just trying to get by.
I’m not struggling, by any means. I and my wife have healthy incomes. But we have two children nearing college age. We live in a modest house with a modest mortgage. We have two modest cars. We go into debt to take a modest vacation once in a while. I’ve been laid off once, so far.
In contrast, by the time he was my age, my father was the president and part owner of a company in San Francisco that employed hundreds of workers. There is no way I will ever reach that mark now.
Nor will anyone of my generation. As I have said elsewhere, people who graduated from college between 1989 and 1992 have, for the most part, vanished from the public sphere. It does not mean that we are not smart enough, or talented enough, or ambitious enough. Rather, it has everything to do with the economy.
And, for those of us who are doing reasonably well monetarily, we are paying in other ways: lack of career advancement. We will shuffle through our mid-level jobs, never rising to our potential. There are consequences to that.
We are part of America too, so our story is America’s story. The Post article wraps up with this:
[America] has waited decades for middle-class jobs to come back, through a loop cycle of political bickering, to no avail.
I can vouch for that.