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Rising Inequality: How Millennials Are Fighting To Survive

“The greatest challenge, in my mind, is rising inequality. In OECD countries, the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in 30 years. Household debt has been rising, and youth are now at a greater risk of living in poverty than their older counterparts”- OECD Project Leader Tracey Burns

Burns is spot on.

Today, it’s incredibly hard for millennials to get by, and inequality between rich and poor is at a high. Whether it’s through a never-ending job search, a choppy career change, or an insufficient pay (often with grueling hours and a harsh culture, to pair), such competitive, negative energy and monetary stresses can hinder this generation’s quality of life, health, and wellbeing, for years to come.

Not only does such financial inequality and hardship in the workforce affect the youth, but it also puts pressure on the parents, who often have to provide additional funds to help their young, fresh adults get off their feet. The time it takes for young birds to flee the nest and embark upon adulthood has drastically extended. It’s quite common for millennials to move back in with mom and dad after college in order to save money by living at home, and I have a couple of friends who have been living at home for three years now. Of the friends of mine who are living solo, some of their parents are providing income for rent, travel, and other pleasures that millennials simply cannot afford.

Isadora Baum | Rising Inequality: How Millennials Are Fighting To Survive

With so many academic and resume requirements, it’s hard to break into the workforce and start from the bottom to work your way up. How can you find work success if you’re not given a real chance? Beyond finances, I find millennials to be incredibly empowering, where they don’t settle, they have high hopes and a vast imagination, and they know what it means to fight against resistance and struggle. Yet, with financial burden and restraint, it’s easy to become defeated or to never reach your full potential.

Since money can be tight, it’s important to be responsible early on, in order to better set yourself up for the future. Taking care of debts and paying off loans will alleviate financial constraints, and setting a budget can keep your savings and spending in check. Think about how much you spend on social engagements, grocery store trips, and extravagant items and recreational activities, such as shoe purchases, massages, or golf outings.

Isadora Baum | Rising Inequality: How Millennials Are Fighting To Survive

If you are more mindful of where you exist within this inequality gap and how much time and effort it may take you to get to where you want to go, you’ll enhance your likelihood of reaching that destination, in the given time and place. Patience, dedication, and resiliency are necessary in fighting the struggle, and while the negative, competitive, energy amongst millennials doesn’t seem fair, it’s a waste to deny the fact that it exists, it’s worsening with time, and it simply demands more. It’s up to the youth today to make the system work, somehow, without inconveniencing parents, who are just trying to save for retirement themselves.

Independence is valuable, and unfortunately, it’s becoming progressively harder for youth to go out into the working world and feel protected and ready. Unless you’re fortunate enough to score a sick, high-paying job or have financial support, it might be rocky for the first few years of work. The only thing left to do is to keep your head high and keep moving, even if it’s just one small step at a time.

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