Hollywood actor Whoopi Goldberg has come under criticism for blaming the financial issues faced by Millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – on their poor work ethic and laziness.
In a conversation on The View about the issue of declining birth rates caused by younger generations choosing to not have kids due to economic concerns, the 67-year-old said: “I’m sorry, if you only wanna work four hours, it’s gonna be harder for you to get a house."
Goldberg claimed that none of the issues faced by younger generations today weren’t faced by the generations before them, and it’s the attitude young people have towards work that stops them from being financially comfortable.
If it wasn’t already obvious, there is something crass about a person with a net worth of £50million, telling young people that they need to work harder to achieve financial freedom.
It’s dangerous that the narrative that ‘young people are lazy’ is continuing to be whipped up across every section of society, when there is little data to back this up. According to research, Millennials are the most educated generation in history, yet are simultaneously the ‘poorest’, with wages stagnating against the rise of inflation and productivity.
Against this backdrop, this generation, and its younger peers, have experienced three major financial crashes – the dot-com bubble bursting, the 2008 financial crash, and the pandemic. As a result, this generation has experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation.
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Recent research from the think tank Resolution Foundation found that people in the UK born in the late 1980s and early 1990s are still earning no more than those born in the 1970s did at the same age – this is even considering the costs of goods and services rising within that period.
Therefore, Millennials have experienced two decades of lost progress on pay. Clearly, it’s not as easy as claiming younger generations don’t work as hard as the generations before them. This generation quite literally has less money than the generations before them at the same age.
Ironically, it’s Goldberg’s generation who own many of the properties that Millennials are having to rent from, and it is this generation who are responsible for many of the catastrophes – like the financial crisis and climate change – that are being left to young people to sort out.
Yet, generalisations about what this group are like continue to dominate public consciousness. Whether it’s ‘snowflakes’ or ‘avocado-toast generation’, an array of derogatory names that aim to belittle younger generations are frequently used by older generations.
Young people, however, are far from this stereotype. Millennials have 300% more student debt than their parents, half as likely to own a home as those the same age in 1975, and most of us won’t be able to retire until we are 75. I don’t think we are lazy. But if we are, we probably have good reason to be, the world appears stacked against us.