It’s December 7, 2022. I took a little longer break than anticipated. Here’s the rundown:
A personal update, and the end of 2022
Gen Z’s time in the barrel
Numbers and links
A personal update, and the end of 2022
Life is chaos.
This is going to be the last newsletter for the year. I recently bought a house, moved in, and am in the process of managing all of the chaos that goes along with that. It took me four days to find my coffee maker, so I wasn’t a happy camper.
I think there’s a bigger piece to be written about the home-buying experience as interest rates climb and prices have yet to fall significantly (in my area, at least), but that’ll need to wait.
In the meantime, happy holidays. NPNR will be back in 2023.
Is it Gen Z’s turn in the barrel?
Millennials got hammered by the Great Recession. Gen Z looks like it’s up to bat.
I graduated from college in May 2009. Economic conditions were…unfavorable.
I got a job parking cars in Seattle. I lived on my friends’ floor for a couple of months. I got another job working in a production studio. Then another job at a radio station. Then some friends and I started a small company (still going strong!) in our garage.
I had four jobs, no money, like six roommates. It was a wild, weird time. But it was fun.
I tend to think that that stretch of my life (which is not unlike others my age, who likewise spilled into the workforce during the Great Recession) as something that more or less held me back by ten years. My parents, for instance, had kids and bought a house and the whole shebang in their mid-twenties. Again, for late-Boomers/early-Gen X, that’s probably not unusual.
But my cohort? We’re now, in our mid-to-late-thirties, having kids and buying houses. Again: My caveman-brained hypothesis here is that this caused something like a ten-year delay in doing “grown-up” things for many people in my age group.
I actually saw this play out over the past few years as I worked alongside younger people who dodged the Great Recession. I’ve worked alongside 22-year-olds, fresh out of school, at their first jobs. I thrilled them with tales of working numerous jobs to make ends meet, and explained why we were at the same professional place despite being a decade-plus older than them.
It didn’t seem to make much sense to some of them. Why didn’t I just take an internship? Why didn’t I just get the job I wanted or that paid more?
Well, it seems like some members of the younger generation are about to start learning some of this stuff the hard way. In fact, history may be repeating itself, in a way. Take this, from a recent Business Insider story:
Amounts of credit-card debt and delinquency rates are on the rise, especially among 18- to 29-year-olds. It comes as most economists predict a recession in 2023, as inflation is up 7.7% versus this time in 2021, and as rents — while beginning to fall in some cities — remain elevated. It's caused young Americans to take out more debt, bring on more roommates, and pick up more work.
To be sure, not all Gen Zers are struggling. Americans aged 16 to 24 have seen a wage growth of 13% over the last year — well above the 7.7% inflation over the same period — as companies have raised pay to attract workers. But if a recession comes, Gen Zers could be among the hardest hit due to mounting debt, few savings, and vulnerability to layoffs.
Here’s a kicker, too, from a 24-year-old woman interviewed for the story:
"My generation and I will not have the same opportunities to build our futures as our parents and grandparents did."
This could literally be from ten or fifteen years ago, and we could just swap “Gen Z” for “millennial.” This isn’t good, of course, and I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in seeing young people struggle. But if we do go into a recession, a lot of young people are going to face some serious difficulties. We can only hope that a recession, if and when it arrives, is not nearly as severe as the Great Recession.
I would say, too, that it’s disheartening to see the factors that made things difficult for me and others in my generation — high prices for education, rent, real estate, child care, health care, etc. — have not been adequately or even remotely dealt with in any meaningful way. You could say that Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan takes aim at one of those pain points, but even if it does make its way through the courts, it’s really only a Band-Aid solution.
Suffice it to say, we could be staring at Gen Z’s economic Everest on the horizon. I do think that, for many young people, it will prove to be a rude awakening. But this is a generation that has come of age through a pandemic and more, so they may be resilient.
Either way, here’s to hoping we can all work together to make the future better for Gen Z, and whatever Gen comes after them.
Numbers, links, and more
103: The number of rooms in the hotel in the Bass Pro Shops store in a former NBA arena. (The Wall Street Journal)
45,000: The number of people without electricity in North Carolina after some terrorists shot up electric substations to stop a drag show. (The New York Times)
$15 trillion: The economic gains from artificial intelligence, per some predictions, that would be garnered by 2030. As of 2022, it’s only $62 billion. (American Affairs)
Keep up with your conspiracies: You may have heard about Hunter Biden’s laptop, and there were some new revelations this past week about it. I still don’t quite understand the grand conspiracy here, but check it out. (Matt Taibbi via Twitter)
Arts, crafts, and making friendship bracelets: Some of the activities that kids will take part in if they join the “After-School Satan Club” at a Maryland public school, which has some parents very worried. (WTKR)
There it is: The former president finally arrives at his inevitable end point — throwing out the constitution so he can still be president. (Insider)
Home buying and subsequent moving. An unsexy area ripe for disruption. Hope you have a great end to the year!