Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovich is a New York-based journalist and author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her Twitter. The views expressed in this comment are solely her own. View more opinion on CNN.
The closing of Silicon Valley Bank has understandably worried many Americans. The chaos and tension are palpable. The Biden administration is trying to stabilize the banking sector, and many populist voters are questioning the idea of what they fear could be another bailout, while some conservatives are curiously blaming the collapse on “vigilanteism” because the bank’s entire board was not white. and male. And then there are Millennials like me, stressed but kind of resigned as we conclude: This again.
While “Millennial” is often treated as shorthand for “young,” the oldest of my generation are in our 40s, and our lives aren’t as stable as we’d hope. This is partly due to a series of crises that have disrupted our earning and wealth-building power. The financial crash of 2008 happened just as many of us were entering our working years, and as early adopters, we were often the first out.
The rest of our adult lives looked like this: instability, job losses, recovery, upheaval. While many of us have managed to re-enter the workforce after losing our jobs, our earnings have taken a permanent hit. We lost more of our earnings to the Great Recession than any other generation of adults, and entering the workforce in an era of wage cuts and greater competition, we were set up for a lifetime of lower earnings and fewer savings.
As we entered our 20s and 30s, housing prices skyrocketed, making home ownership largely out of reach. At the same time, jobs were increasingly concentrated in the big cities – the places where the cost of housing, including rent, was the highest. With many of us pouring huge chunks of our house pay into monthly rent costs and astronomical student loan payments, there wasn’t much left over to save for a down payment.
With interest rates now high, the promise of home ownership seems even further away for many Millennials. We lag far behind Boomers, Gen Xers, and even members of the Silent Generation when it comes to homeownership in our 20s, 30s, and 40s. We live longer with our parents. when we move, we are more likely to rent than buy.
Then, Covid-19 struck. The pandemic has been a disaster for everyone, and it has been deadliest for older Americans. But it was financially devastating for working parents and especially for single mothers of young children.
And who were most of the working parents of young children in America during Covid-19? Millennials. Many of us have struggled to work for pay and care for children who have suddenly returned home full-time. It was Millennial mothers (and some older Gen Zs) who were most likely to lose or be forced out of their jobs, interrupting their earnings and career trajectories at critical years – money and opportunities they’ll never get back.
And now, another potential crash on the horizon, one that comes in our prime working years. Already, the tech industry—with its many Millennial-owned businesses, and an employer of just as many Millennials—is laying off workers en masse. Meta just announced it is laying off another 10,000 workers, after eliminating 11,000 in November. Now, with the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, we see the threat of even greater destruction at worst and even greater instability at best.
And we wonder: Why haven’t those in charge worked harder to secure our future?
Millennials have unusual politics in the sense that we are a generally liberal generation that has not become more conservative with age. While older adults have coped well as they reach middle age, Millennials have not.
This is no accident. American Millennials were born in Ronald Reagan’s America, where the safety net was badly punctured and the stage was set for radical inequality to take root. As we entered the world, America diverged from our economic counterparts in Europe – our health care costs skyrocketed, while our health outcomes and life expectancy stagnated. Many European nations implemented generous paid parental leave policies, invested in public transportation, and designed affordable childcare services, while the US simply did not. American special interests pushed both parties to remove the guardrails that prevented banks from taking unforgivable risks and kept things like college affordable.
Millennials have paid the price. While we’ve been doing everything right—going to college in record numbers, delaying marriage and parenting, spending less frivolously and saving more diligently—we’ve still found ourselves entering middle age feeling like financially insecure 20-somethings. And we realize that it’s not our fault – that it wasn’t the avocado toast.
We see Baby Boomer politicians who refuse to step down and make way for the next generation and also refuse to invest in our lives and future. We look across the pond or to the north and see our European and Canadian peers who take months off when they have babies, who aren’t drowning in student loan debt, who can go to the doctor without worrying about overdrawing their checking accounts or getting torpedoed. bankruptcy, whose toddlers eat fresh vegetables at high-quality free or affordable daycare and who take long paid vacations every summer.
We especially see Republicans trying to distract us with fear of drag shows and gay penguins while they continue to put our lives in jeopardy. Former President Donald Trump, in particular, rolled back some of the regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, opening the door to this new one, and it’s Republicans who are fighting student debt relief all the way to the Supreme Court.
We are looking at the possibility of another crisis, again caused by a feckless and greedy financial industry and a Republican Party that has put the interests of the banks above the basic stability and well-being of the rest of us. I’m not talking about every Millennial, but I certainly hope President Joe Biden does everything in his power to keep the US economy, and by extension the global economy, stable and vibrant.
I realize that this may require some politically unpopular choices. But Millennials have borne the brunt of these repeated failures, which threaten to keep us broke, stressed and financially unstable for the rest of our lives. And we deserve a long overdue bailout.