He sometimes considers getting a master’s, but that would mean walking away from his salary and benefits for two years and taking on another five digits of debt—just to snag an entry-level position, at the age of 30, that would pay less than he makes driving a bus.At his current job, he’ll be able to move out in six months. There are millions of Scotts in the modern economy.“A lot of workers were just 18 at the wrong time,” says William Spriggs, an economics professor at Howard University and an assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor in the Obama administration.“Employers didn’t say, ‘Oops, we missed a generation.From job security to the social safety net, all the structures that insulate us from ruin are eroding.And the opportunities leading to a middle-class life—the ones that boomers lucked into—are being lifted out of our reach.The other applicants described their corporate jobs and listed off graduate degrees. “One time the HR rep told us she did these three times a week,” Scott says.“And I just knew I was never going to get a job.”After six months of applying and interviewing and never hearing back, Scott returned to his high school job at The Old Spaghetti Factory. He still lives at home, chipping in a few hundred bucks every month to help his mom pay the rent.
At some of the interviews he was by far the least qualified person in the room.We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. We killed cereal and department stores and golf and napkins and lunch.Mention “millennial” to anyone over 40 and the word “entitlement” will come back at you within seconds, our own intergenerational game of Marco Polo.Eight, 10 people in suits, a circle of folding chairs, a chirpy HR rep with a clipboard.