It’s not about paying your dues. We all understand we have to work our way up. We all understand that you have to earn your experience.
However, when my dad was my age, and close this this woman’s, and yours, he was making $900 a month, and paid $150 for rent on a 3 bedroom house, with a yard. In a nice suburb near the heart of a big city. Between him and my mother, they were able to save money to have a down payment for a house they would buy in a few years. All while raising two kids who were already 6 and 7 at the time. They had already purchased 2 vehicles, and my dad was also paying for college to become a CPA. All this, while they both worked mid level jobs at a local bank 40 hours a week. With pension plans and health insurance. They didn’t make minimum wage, but they were only a couple dollars above it.
I don’t know ANYONE in their 20s now who has has a family with two kids, two adults, two paid-for cars, one parent paying for college tuition (not using student loans) attending classes four nights a week, all while having zero debt, a large savings account to buy a house, and only two barely above minimum wage jobs between them. All while still being able to easily afford daily and emergency expenses, like groceries and pediatric care. As well as being able to go on a family vacation once a year. That’s the difference. Young people have always had to start small and build. Always. But since when does the starting point include debt and extreme struggle to get ahead? If you want a family, you usually have to go to college first, because you can’t afford kids unless you have a college degree to get a hopefully decent job in today’s world. That is, if you can afford college. If you can’t, and you’re under 25, your parents income is included when considering loans and grants, and your parents don’t need to make much to disqualify you. But with the average income in the US right now under $40k a year, and most college costing anywhere from $20–40k a year(not including room board and books), your parents probably can’t afford to pay for you anyways. They might be able to help some if you’re lucky. So you take out loans and do what you can to survive while going to school. So when you graduate you can get that decent paying job. Hopefully in your field of study.. eventually.
But statistically you’re fucked.
Because good paying factory and manufacturing jobs, that used to be able to support the average American family, have all but disappeared to disadvantaged laborers in third word countries like Bangladesh and Taiwan or China. In addition, we no longer tax companies who manufacture goods in other countries but sell them here. Companies make all the profit, but don’t have to pay the tariffs anymore. Losing this job sector had a huge impact on the makeup of our jobs and economy. So those types of people who worked in those types of jobs had to adapt over the last two decades, and find new work. But not everyone can go up when they find that new work. There’s only so much room for moving up. Only so many manager jobs or executive positions. Since the factories are gone, there’s fewer jobs open in the market, period. Which means there’s only so many jobs out there for the large influx of job seekers. Therefore the majority of people move down in pay and lifestyle out of desperation. They get that service job, they take the entry level position they are over qualified for, because they need the money, and companies love not having to pay to train people.
This trickle down of job loss has a compounding effect on us all. As more lower-middle and middle class paying jobs disappear, more people of the middle class move down to the lower class. Then, as young people are coming up and into the world, opportunities are fewer.
Because of years like 2008, a lot of people lost their good paying jobs and had to take lesser ones. Leaving only the least/worst paying for the young and most desperate people. Which means there’s fewer menial jobs for high schoolers and recent high school grads, where most of us got to develop our early skills for that work ethic you say that millennials are lacking.
As the factory jobs vanish, and Wall Street gambles away our economy, we see more regular people becoming the desperate people. Willing to take any shitty job for any money, because that’s better than no money, even if it’s not enough to pay for rent, and food.
The true cause of low wages is not ever being addressed, and the cycle continues. The cycle of the richest in our economy using their money as influence to make sure they can keep more of their money, all while playing a shell game with tax havens around the world. All these money games to slowly siphon and hoard our country’s wealth into small, concentrated areas (i.e. Individuals), all while gambling with our money on each other’s trade deals.
The particular girl from Yelp may not be the perfect golden example of the real struggle for anyone under 30 that us millennials would like, but there are many working 40 hours a week, living with roommates, trying to balance work and school. There’s plenty of 20 something parents, both with college degrees making choices between paying to fix their car this week, or paying the $300 a week for daycare. Because they don’t want to have to put it on the credit card again. They have to pay for daycare because both don’t have time to be home with their kids, because they are both working two jobs to make enough money to pay off student debt, and maybe one day, save enough money for a down payment for a mortgage they’re not even sure they make enough to qualify for in the first place. So they can maybe pay into equity instead of $1000 rent for the cramped 2 bedroom apartment they’re living in.
The ladder we must climb after high school, is far different now, then it was, even in recent years. And it’s all due to policies that take huge sectors of good paying lower middle class jobs (NAFTA, GATT, TPP) away from the US. Not everyone can climb up when there are fewer good jobs to go around. The ladder has been pulled up higher, the rungs at the bottom spaced further apart. And it only gets harder every year as the millennial population continues to grow as more kids graduate high school to enter this rigged system. While more companies are cutting hours. More negative changes to our government policy (aka: companies lobbying/paying/bribing politicians) like refusing to keep minimum wage in pace with our production levels. All while inflation of prices for goods across the board skyrocket as companies consolidate into pseudo-monopolies now expanding on a global scale.
To look solely at her story, and not recognize the symptoms all around you, is simply being blind.