Have We Become the Slash Generation to Compensate for an Economy that’s Failing Us?

Jane wrote an article about the Slash Generation over a year ago- Are We the Slash Generation?– and it’s one of our most read articles. Why? Well, beside’s Jane’s captivating writing skills, I’m convinced this interest in the slash generation prevails because the slash generation is ubiquitous and is already bleeding into future generations.

What is the slash generation? It’s a generation of 20 and 30 somethings that have multiple jobs and even multiple full time careers. For example: Actor/Yoga Teacher/Nutritionist/Graphic Designer, or DJ/Cafe Owner/Artist/programmer. We all have hobbies, such as occasional running or painting, but the slash generation has multiple JOBS. I’m a prime example of slash generation- my job title is presenter/product specialist/ demonstrator/ marketer/ writer/ actor/ director/ producer. I’m probably forgetting something.

Why is the slash generation on the rise? Well, the economic landscape is changing for millennials in their twenties and thirties- and the changes are affecting younger and older generations as well. Jobs that include pensions are now few and far between and companies don’t necessarily encourage employees to stick around. Changing jobs has become as frequent as changing your socks.

And there are good reasons to change jobs: minimum wage salaries don’t nearly keep up with inflation, most employers don’t reward you for sticking around, benefits are few and far between. So instead of sticking with one company, millennials are going wide and both starting their own companies and working with multiple employers on both a freelance and employee basis. Honestly, we sometimes need to do all these things to pay our bills.

The slash generation is a double edged sword: it can be very helpful to have multiple jobs and skills and to ‘go wide’ so that you have security if certain jobs don’t work out. But the slash generation is also sign of unfair economic times in America- where you can work very hard within companies and still not see anywhere near the kind of money you deserve. This is an era where companies can have spectacular financial success with their employees barely seeing a dime of that growth.

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In America, there has been a 72.2% rise in productivity since 1973 and only an 8.7% rise in pay rate

 

 

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Should We Care about the Minimum Wage Problems in Our Thirties?

Hopefully, though not necessarily, we’re making more than minimum wage in our thirties. Whether you are or not, though, I hope you’d be interested in the statistic saying that the Federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is worth less than it was 50 years ago. I find that to be an extremely sad statistic.

Someone asked on Quora (my absolute favor online pleasure site where I can get lost in questions and answers for hours) the other day: “How could 1950’s families afford to have only a working father, but a stay at home mother?” A bunch of people provided answers about eating out less and saving more, but one answerer got right to the point: Basically, when there was more productivity at a company in the 1950’s, the workers made more money. When there’s more productivity at a company now, the top 1% keep excess money, and the workers never see it.

In 1950, the average income per year was $3,210. Since the minimum wage was $0.75 an hour (on January 25, 1950), people working the minimum wage the average number of hours a week (43) made $1,677 a year. So, by working the average number of hours and making the federal minimum wage, you could make 52% of the average wage. In 1950, a new house cost $8,450. So, if you never spent a penny of the money you earned, it would take roughly 5 years at the federal minimum wage to save the amount equal to that of a new house.

In 2015, the average income per year was $55,775. Since the minimum wage in 2015 was $7.25 an hour, people working the minimum wage the average number of hours a week (34) made $12,818 a year. So, by working the average number of hours and making the federal minimum wage, you could make 23% of the average wage. The average sale price for a new house in January 2016 was $365,600. So, if you never spent a penny of the money you earned, it would take 29 years at the federal minimum wage to save the amount equal to that of a new house. Do those seem equal to you?

Also, according to the EPI: “Between 1973 and 2014 productivity grew 72.2 percent…while the typical worker’s compensation was nearly stagnant…9.2 percent over the entire 1973–2014 period. This allowed a huge concentration of wealth at the highest 1% of people.”

So what can we do about this? Well, California and New York have increased their minimum wages (with the exclusion of certain small businesses) to $15/hr and that will go into effect by 2022 and 2018, respectively. This is great progress. Because, according to a study by the Center for American Federal minimum wage: “the minimum wage should have hit $21.72 an hour if it kept up with worker productivity.” Even if minimum wage kept up with inflation alone, the study goes on to say, federal minimum wage should at least be $10.52 an hour.

Even if you’re not politically active, and don’t want to get into debates about the minimum wage, you might feel some anger over this the same way I do. People can’t live on the federal minimum wage as it stands…and even if they can live a scraped together life, it doesn’t help the economy anyway that people living on an ‘unlivable’ federal minimum wage have barely any buying power.

What can we do? At the very least, it’s good to be aware of this issue, and spread the word when we can. It’s not true that people in the 1950’s simply “saved more.” I’m a huge fan of saving but don’t let yourself get gaslighted by minimum wage excuses like that one. There are americans who work the maximum number of hours allowed a week, and save as much as they can, who are still simply unable to make enough money to live on. This is a problem for us all.

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