Hiring Generation U: Problems With the Recent Crop of College Grads

My recent post on Generation U (underemployed and unemployed) generated an enormous amount of activity on ERE. This is a topic of some interest to recruiters, so in this post I’ll focus on some of the challenges that this generation faces in getting and staying employed.

This group does not have a good image — the New York Post called it “The Worst Generation,” citing research that shows Gen U members as being very narcissistic and with a high sense of entitlement. Apparently they have a very inflated sense of self. “They want to be CEO tomorrow,” is a common refrain from corporate recruiters. A survey showed that when it comes to work, what Gen U cares about most are high salaries and lots of time off. They are also unable to take criticism — frequently believing they are doing great work when they aren’t.

They have a tendency to take credit for good outcomes and blame others when things go wrong, causing conflict. And work is where many really struggle because the jobs they can get don’t match their expectations for success.

This group was raised to expect, receive, and question everything. This sense of privilege has caused many in this group to lack patience in developing professionally; an unconcern with “paying their dues”; and a different perception of how “work” should work. Research also shows that they often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting. They feel cheated and might try to obtain rewards they feel they are entitled to through unethical means. For example, they are more likely to manipulate performance data to achieve higher bonuses.

Mama I’m Coming Home

Many are also less motivated to do anything to solve the problem. Surveys show that they are more risk averse and sedentary — almost a third have moved back in or never left their parents’ houses. Those who live in areas of high unemployment are reluctant to move. Census data shows that the likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since 1980. While there is plenty of demand for workers in skilled trades, many prefer to stay unemployed and few are willing to do this kind of work even though those jobs can pay far more than working in retail or as a waiter or waitress.

Having been told by their parents and even icons like the late Steve Jobs to “follow their passion” or “do what you love,” many do just that when it comes to picking a college major, leading to a situation where far too many have degrees that are not particularly valued by employers.

Article Continues Below

The Children Are Our Future

It isn’t all bad news. Having been raised to expect a lot but also pushed to do a lot (think of all the activities the typical school kid is involved in) means they can also be high performers. The Washington Post mentioned that “Reared on rapid-fire Internet connections and cheap airline tickets and pressured to obtain multiple academic degrees,” many of this generation “grew up with an array of options their parents or older siblings did not have.”

When it comes to recruiting Gen ,U recruiters have to take a different approach. Many employers are doing just that.

  • Aflac (quack, quack) is highlighting such perks as time off given as awards, flexible work schedules, and recognition. And new employees get welcomed by Gilbert Gottfried (just kidding).

  • Xerox is using the slogan “Express Yourself” as a way to describe its culture to recruits. The hope is that the slogan will appeal to this Generation’s desire to develop solutions and change.

Regardless of what the problems are, Generation U is too big to ignore. It is nearly as large as the baby boomer generation and will make up an increasing part of the workforce. Many are confident, connected, optimistic, entrepreneurial, and tech savvy. They are the most diverse and they see the world as truly global. These are qualities that employers need to be successful.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


21 Comments on “Hiring Generation U: Problems With the Recent Crop of College Grads

  1. Every single generation has blasted the up and coming generation as somehow mystically, magically worse. For every generation, their kids are going to hell, and their grand parents were saints. It’s BS, it always has been, it always will be.

    How dare generation U actually expect decent pay and treatment at work? What planet are they living on, where they expect to be paid commensurate with what they produce, and where to they get the sheer, unmitigated gall to actually expect the opportunities that have been sold to them over and over and over and over again to be available and attainable?

    What horrid young people, to look at the CEO and see he spends half his time on vacation and wonder why they can’t get more than 5 to 10 days a year, some of which of course they will always have to hold in reserve because if a bomb goes off disrupting their commute and the entire nation goes on lockdown, they will be expected to use their vacation time until they’re allowed and able to get back to work.

    What a sense of entitlement, to think that they shouldn’t have to slave away their entire lives seeing fully half their pay disappear as taxes, some of which will used to bail out their CEOs when they screw up, but none of which will be used to help them when the S hits the F, of course.

    I say thank God for generation U. If what is being said about them is true, then I’ll accept their attitude for the pleasure of people willing to question their bosses. I’ll deal with their music for the benefit of a generation finally willing to tell their employers that they will be paid, and they will have a decent work-life balance, the company be damned. I will take their occasional screw ups on the job for the emergence of an entire generation who is finally willing to demand the old toads at the top deliver on the American Dream as opposed to holding it out as a never attainable carrot for them to chase.

  2. I think this is a well written article discussing the challenges of working with Gen U, just like working with Gen Y and Gen X before it. As a parent of a Gen U, I hope I have raised him to understand the value of hard work and delivering what’s expected in whatever career he chooses.

    Do I think the concerns in this article are only reflective of Gen U, no. In my career (I’m a GenX), I have seen plenty of Gen X, Gen Y and even Baby Boomers who have chosen “to work just enough” or have the expectation of reward with no effort being put forth.

    This is not a generational issue as much an issue of societal’s lack of work ethic or drive. Yes continue to work hard AND ask for the benefits of flexible work, better pay etc. Should we all make $1M salary? Are we all willing to risk to make that salary? If you are willing to risk it, then you should by all means grab the brass ring and get it. However, I do not think any individual, no matter what generation you are with, can exit college and honestly believe they are a 6 figure salary winner because they have a degree. The degree opens doors, it’s what you, the individual do to make yourself stand out.

  3. Jen,

    There’s a myriad of issues I think you touched on that span the private and political sphere that have created the conditions we see today. I agree no one should come out of the gate expecting to be a millionaire. But I don’t see many people expecting that.

    I do see them wondering why they should have to work two jobs, if they’re married both spouses working, to simply maintain a standard a of living which was attainable not 20 years ago on one income from one job, not two to four incomes if they’re both working.

    In my own job search I have come to the offer stage, with people fully aware of what I am currently at, and offering me half. I have seen advertisements and been contacted by recruiters saying they’re looking for someone with 8-10 years of experience, and when pressed and they finally reveal the salary the position they’re recruiting for pays, it’s 35K. No bonus. This has happened several times now, and mind you I live in NY, on Long Island, one of the most expensive places to live on the entire planet.

    To my view, generation U is doing something far more destructive, and in my view far more welcome, than previous generations. They are questioning the very basis of the heavily corporate dominated system they are in. Or, to put it another way, slowly but surely they are striking closer to the root of the problem as opposed to swinging at the branches.

    Recently, at a company I am aware of, the owners had their yearly financial meetings and started bleating on about belt tightening and potential layoffs. I don’t begrudge people their earnings. In fact, I’m a pretty extreme capitalist in my leanings and want as little government as possible, and see most problems as developing from what interventions we have. That’s a topic for another time. However, that these people didn’t or couldn’t see the ridiculous optics involved in showing up in brand new BMWs for a meeting in which they complained about the company’s financial situation, blamed it on everyone else, and threatened layoffs, speaks to a larger disconnect between the owners and financiers of companies and their direct and indirect labor forces.

    I think as people get more and more well off they forget what it’s like to live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, and so have fewer reservations about putting their labor force in that bracket of hand to mouth living. I think once the upward momentum of your income outpaces the inflationary trend of all other prices upward, you simply don’t personally see, or more to the point feel the pressure of increased costs in food, housing, energy, and healthcare.

    It can be as simple as having your own parking spot when your workplace is located in an area with bad parking. All your employees have to deal with parking tickets and leaving for work 2 hours early to make sure they get a spot, or the area’s bad mass transit, etc., while you blithely go through your day never feeling that pressure. Certainly it doesn’t affect your income. Meanwhile, for the guy in Customer Service who is on warning because the wife of the owner of the company called in and screamed at him and cursed him out for some real or imagined mistake and he wasn’t subservient enough, so now finding parking so he isn’t late might be the difference between feeding his family or not.

    Generation U is pulling back the curtain and exposing the wizard and calling him on his BS. I say more power to them. And while I agree with you that these problems are not generational, I do get the sense that toadies at the top are particular annoyed with Gen U’s questions being aimed directly at their standard of living. “Why do you need 5 yachts but I’m getting paid only $20 an hour? Why, if I’m so critical to your company as you said in your last employee relations blitz, do you pay so little and routinely force me to choose between the company and my children? Why am I being forced to use my vacation time when the entire state has been shut down due to a whether emergency? Why do I have to work 8 consecutive hours when I can produce what I was hired for in half the time?”

    Note that last statement, because the traditional 8 hour workday is something I’m seeing questioned more often. The younger people I see are often looking at their job as a deliverable. And they know what their peers are doing, and there’s less of a desire in them to excel, but not because they don’t want to do well, but because they know the guy next to them is producing half as much but getting roughly the same pay. And it’s a valid question for them to ask: why should they bust their butts when no one else will, especially if it’s not going to materialize into a return for them? I’ve been in that situation before and left jobs because of it. I didn’t need a promotion or to run the company, but if I was producing twice as much as the guy next to me, you can bet your backside I wanted twice the pay. I’m no one’s slave, and I’m not busting my rump for a prolonged period of time with no payoff ‘just because,’ or in the hope that some manager might mention a few years from now. Mind explaining why those at the bottom have to wait to get paid commensurate with what they produce while the company gets the work product, and the revenue stream and profit from it, right then and there?

    I’m in this game for me, and when I work with a company it is a business relationship. They are not entitled to my work product, I am not entitled to a job. But there is this double standard in our culture where the laborer is expected to put out as much as possible regardless of compensation, and the employer is not held to that same standard. Nope, it’s considered perfectly okay if they just sit there and pay Peter and Paul the same rate even though Paul is producing twice as much. Which is why many companies are psychotically against salary information getting out.

    Well, information flows these days, and Gen U is very tuned in to that flow, and Paul knows damn well what Peter is getting and can judge Peter’s performance relative to his own, and is rightfully questioning why he’s working like a dog for the same pay. He is rightfully questioning why the company owners and financiers get bail outs while his retirement fund gets squandered. He is rightfully questioning the massive increase in the gap between those who have most of the wealth and the rest of us. Gen U is great in my opinion, because while their tendencies and deviancies are no more or less than previous generations, their aim seems to be more spot on than previous generations in terms of questioning their parents and the world they created.

  4. Richard,

    This is a future coffee date! I don’t disagree with any of your points. I believe that yes, if you work harder, you should be recognized. I also believe you should be promoted on merit, not because you apply for it, but are rewarded for attaining it. This is not corporate America today and I’m not sure where or when that tide changed or why it changed. I assume it happened because we have to “be nice” to everyone. We all have to obtain a participation medal. That again comes back to the societal issues of working hard and knowing that not everyone should/can/will be treated as equals. Sometimes you do have to work for it. I still believe that you have to work for it.

    However, your commentary on organizations top dogs losing touch is a wildly valid point. It happens in every industry, every day. The Gen U, even the Gen Y and heck the GenX have highly skilled, highly productive individuals who’s work day shouldn’t be about the time clock punched, but the production that you achieve. Flexible work environments are just the tip of the iceberg and yes having witnessed the “customer service scenario employee” first hand while management is given lots of latitude because their work can be done anywhere. Do I want to be compensated because I work harder and am willing to, Heck Yes! Have I chosen to take a risk and not work for a corporation; to start my own business, no. My choice and probably my mistake. I do expect my corporation to listen to its employees though, not nod their heads and say ‘uh-huh’ but actually listen. When they don’t, that’s how they lose top talent. And they should lose top talent and they will continue to wonder why they lose top talent unless they start listening. Maybe that is the key the Gen U can give us.

    As far as living a lifestyle with multiple incomes, that’s a slippery slope conversation. I do know it is harder today to make a respectable income and provide for a family, but where is the personal decision making fall in how you live. I had this debate with my Dad once and he (silent generation/baby boomer cusp) pointed out that they did manage on one income, without 4 TV’s (which I don’t have) and laptops and computers and smart phones (which I do) and flying across the country on vacation (we drove, we spent time together, not with noses buried in technology until we arrived at the destination)and I pointed out that society in many ways has forced us to live this lifestyle, because if you don’t provide these items to your kids, they won’t achieve in school, they won’t excel in the job market. This is expensive to maintain, it makes you feel inadequate as a parent if you don’t, but then do you choose to sacrifice somewhere else to make it happen. I think the answer is yes. Would I love to take my kids on vacation every spring break to a beach, yes but that’s my problem to decide how to do it. Not my company’s to just pay me so I can. Make sense? My family, which consists of 2 teenagers, just did a summer vacation, 3500 miles in a car, spending time outside, enjoying one of our greatest National Parks. And my kids….noses buried in books for periods of time. Did we have technology available? Of course who leaves home with out it today, but could we have. Yes. Should we have. Yes I think everyone needs to get off the grid now and again.

    I’m all for questioning the status quo and wanting answers to the ‘why’s’ but this article is about the next generation and what’s deemed as their trouble making ways. I hope they can help bring more transparency to the corporate world, but it will take help from the right Gen Y, Gen X and yes even that Baby Boomer or too. Do I want my son to complete college in 2017 and move home. Nope. I hope (actually know) that he doesn’t either. I do hope he works hard and does follow his dreams. I hope he finds passion in his career path. I hope that he is successful, but what his success is ultimately is his choice.

  5. One other point on the salary expectation that I forgot. I have seen it. I have recruited college kids and had them tell me that because they have a degree they expect a salary of almost six figures. What did they do during college, not anything to make them stand out. In fact I had one gentleman tell me that the fact he went to Columbia and had a finance degree, was the primary reason he was worthy. I don’t believe again ALL have this expecation, but these are usually some of the most vocal ones out there.

  6. I’ve read a lot of nice points in both the article and comments above. I’ll admit that I mixed feelings. Gen U has been molded to be self entitled and narcissistic. Either every child wins a trophy in little league sports or video games having cheats to win the game. These are small examples, but certainly these ideas add up. However, I do find it ridiculous that college tuitions increase every year, yet incomes for these college grads typically don’t match. Have any you been in the market lately for an apartment? In Boston, it’s a joke. $1000+ for a studio or 1 bedroom apartment that is falling apart. And the generation ahead expect these grads to pay rent, utilities, cell phone bills, car payments (maybe), and Sally Mae, all while earning $40K a year?!?! SMH

  7. @ Richard. Well said again. I think that much of what is said about Gen Y is applicable to any cohort, I particularly recall reading as a kid/teenager about the narcissistic “Me Generation”.

    I also think what we have today is due in large part to a 30 year period of “Greed is good, you can have it all (and if you don’t it’s your fault), let the devil take the hindmost” philosophy which has gutted the middle class and reduced social mobility below what tn once was and what other Western countries currently have. We have the greatest concentration/inequality of wealth since before the Great Depression.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see “Gen Screwed” any more likely to significantly change things without there being a quick and sharp downward turn than the “Me Generation” did… You wonder why CXOs show up in shiny Beamers, Lexuses, and Porsches to meetings threatening salary cuts and layoffs? BECAUSE THEY CAN- there’s nothing to stop them from rubbing it in the anxious employees’ faces except an absent sense of empathy. Gen Y may complain about the gross unfairness and ludicrousness of many workplaces, BUT WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Form a union? Yeah, right. If the potential employee isn’t in “the Fab 5%”, there are loads of people who will put up with the crap without complaining. Unless something major happens, I don’t see much changing anytime soon.

    Keith “Hope I’m Wrong Again” Halperin

  8. “where is the personal decision making fall in how you live.”

    It’s a statement I agree with, and I draw the line this way: if it was possible for your parents, it should at least be possible for you with an equal outlay. I definitely sympathize with people who look at others in such situations and wonder why they don’t downsize a bit. Some of them likely should, I did myself because I’m a pessimist and, having just gotten a raise, figure I better get ready for a kick in the rear.

    But that’s also a too convenient way to dismiss a real problem, which is the declinging value of labor which should in fact be heading upward. Speaking in generalities, the economic output of this country now is many times what it was in the early 1900s, and despite the downturn is way more now that it was even thirty years ago. But, despite this increase in productivity and output, real wages are flat and even declining for most people. The system should work thus: increased capital investment per head of labor increases labor productivity, which increases the demand for labor. There should be a secular trend in wages upward, not downward. The productivity increase is there. The investment is, or was there. The demand hasn’t gone up, it seems to have done down. There’s a short in the system somewhere, and personally I think it’s with the shriveled up toadies at the top in government and industry.

    “One other point on the salary expectation that I forgot. I have seen it. I have recruited college kids and had them tell me that because they have a degree they expect a salary of almost six figures. What did they do during college, not anything to make them stand out. In fact I had one gentleman tell me that the fact he went to Columbia and had a finance degree, was the primary reason he was worthy. I don’t believe again ALL have this expecation, but these are usually some of the most vocal ones out there.”

    Yeah, kids can be weird. But as you say, this isn’t a generational thing. There have been dellusional people throughout history. And in their defense, these kids were sold the bill of goods that degree = money since they were born. Go to college or you won’t get paid much! If I had my life to do over again, I wouldn’t necessarily skip college, but I’d want to learn a trade as well. Welding or something.

  9. “You wonder why CXOs show up in shiny Beamers, Lexuses, and Porsches to meetings threatening salary cuts and layoffs? BECAUSE THEY CAN- there’s nothing to stop them from rubbing it in the anxious employees’ faces except an absent sense of empathy.”

    That’s true, but I’m a bit more optimistic because I see the reigns coming out of their hands. Knowledge is power, and knowledge is getting seriously decentralized these days. It’s much easier for people to connect. It’s also much easier even with censored sites like Glassdoor for people to get a sense of what it’s like to work somewhere. Plus what is largely considered a downer, that is the housing problem, does have an upside I think. That upside is more renters, less owners, and a more mobile workforce that will be more able to switch jobs when they feel it’s necessary.

    In any event what it comes down to is word of mouth and marketing. Word of mouth is going to destroy some companies because their brand as an employer sucks. As it is with product itself, unless they start producing a better work place and letting people know it’s there, and at least somewhat living up to what they claim, they will go out of business. They simply don’t have the ability to manage the market the way they used to. THAT is what, if anything, will give employees an edge to push back against employers.

  10. @ Richard: There have been a number of trends at work here for the past half century or so (my life)-
    Before I was born and when I was a young kid, it seemed a large number of families could achieve a middle-class lifestyle with a single income. Houses and education were proportionately much cheaper (houses were smaller and less fancy and colleges had proportionately lower tuition and more grants/fewer loans), and medical costs weren’t as significant. Then in the ’70s, we had rapid inflation and a second income was often needed to maintain decent standard of living. (This was helped by the Women’s Movement encouraging female employment. outside the home.) We began accepting two-income families as the norm.

    We’re now into the ’80s and “It’s morning in America”: the massive de-industrialization of America with the weakening of labor unions, and a more individualistic-approach to the economy- “Lets deregulate. I’ll get mine, you get yours. A rising tide raises all boats”. Meanwhile we see increasing globalization, and as part of this, many consumer goods become cheaper and new ones (electronics, computers, etc.) appear. Medical, educational, (and in some areas) housing costs start rising, but not too quickly to cause much concern. (Combining the last two, my wife and I say: “Things that go in a house got cheaper, but the house and things that don’t go in it got more expensive.”)

    It’s the ’90s, and after the post GWI-Recession things get better- unemployment is low, there’s lots of stuff to by, so we don’t really notice how medical, educational, and housing costs keep rising. Who cares? Now we’re into the late ’90s and it’s the Dotcom Era; everybody’s working and making money. It’s a great time. In the background, a little-known bank regulation called the Glass Steagall Act (which limits the types of activities that banks can do) gets repealed and banks will now be able to offer all sorts of new services…

    “Holy Future, Batman!” We’re in the bold new 21st Century and we get 9/11 and the Dot Bomb Recession. The recovery period is marked by the fewest created new jobs in any administration since Hoover, and in the background: medical, educational, and housing costs keep going up. Our two-income family is finding that their wages haven’t kept up with inflation, but it’s hard to cut back, so let’s refinance our house and use the money to get stuff; it’ll be fine…. Remember those “Post-Glass Steagall Repeal” banks and financial institutions? Well, they’ve been up to all sorts of tricks, which made some of their people very, very rich. AW OH! Guess the jig is up- too bad millions of unemployed, too bad millions of underwater and foreclosed mortgage-holders! You shouldn’t have trusted us with your employment or taken the refi-money. By the way, the credit card debt for all that stuff you bought is over $1T, and so is student loan debt (educational costs keep rapidly rising and non-loan aid is falling)- don’t think your kids can declare bankruptcy and get out of it, either. Finally, isn’t it nice how your medical services keep declining in quality while the cost keeps going up- don’t think Obamacare will fix that, oh no!

    Don’t be too sad though, WE’LL be fine, you just watch. We have even more money and more power than before, and we’ll make sure to keep it. You ordinary people should have been more like us:
    1) ”Grab as much as you can for as long as you can, then get out of there as fast as you can. Repeat as often as necessary.”
    2)”Loyalty = cash-flow.”
    3)”When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The smart left a long time ago.”


  11. @ Richard: I’m not as optimistic (“What, Keith, not optimistic!?”) as you re: the power of factual information to counteract marketing hype. IMHO, you don’t have to worry about WOM if you’re:
    1) An EOC
    2) Have a big marketing/PR budget
    3) Don’t require the “Fab 5%” or other people you couldn’t reasonably expect to get.

    A personal example: a few years ago, I contracted for an EOC. It had (and I think it still does) have a terrible reputation for how it hires, and this was reflected in the terrified state of many of us (contractors) in the recruiting department, hoping not to offend a low-number employee and thereby eliminate chances for FT conversion. Despite the bad recruiting WOM, this company never had a problem finding recruiters willing to go through their dysfunctional interviews for a chance to recruit for them…

    If I may mangle Lincoln:
    “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, and enough of the people enough of the time to advance your career for a very long time.”



  12. Keith,

    I have to disagree on a few points. Specifically Glass Steagall, it was never repealed and is still on th books today. A few provisions were changed which assisted in the creation of the bad debt that lead to the financial crisis. However, that’s a one sided analysis. Bad debt is always created, as poor versions of any product are created all the time. Who’s going to buy it though, and why, is the real question. You can change the laws around such that it seems profitable and a good idea to build square wheels for cars, but who is going to buy them, unless of course the buying itself is subsidized? Subsidized by, say as an example, metric tons of easy money and credit and implicit bail out guarantees, and corporate limited liability.

    I also wouldn’t call the Dotcom era a good thing or a great time. Booms and busts are inherently tied together. An inflationary boom always feels good, but it’s the result of what amounts to an artificially lower cost of money. As with any other price control, eventually the supply runs out and there’s your crash. If the government wanted and the Fed was willing, it could air drop a massive bomb of easy money on to the US and things would seem great for a short while until the devaluation occurred, which is inevitable, and then we’d all be screwed again. The people at the top of the corporate ladder would see the money first and spend it before it devalued, allowing themselves to get a nice wealth transfer, and we’d be left with wages that were always lagging theirs because by the time we saw the money, it’d be worth less.

    I’m more optimistic than you though, because I see people finding ways around the system more and more. The rise of the various crypto currencies, barter economies and websites for exchange that attempt to by pass the corporate and government hacks carving off ‘their share’ before ‘allowing’ the transaction, etc. Technology is coming in to the hands of the people and they are using it in their own interest in innovative ways. The real currency of the world is information, and more and more people have it.

    Specifically with relation to our field, more and more people are savy enough to look up salaries to see if theirs is considered fair. Job boards and social networking connect people such that there are more avenues for finding new opportunities. Companies will find it harder and harder to hide their flaws even as it gets easier for them to promote their positives. As will be the case with candidates. The more information people have access to, the better. It won’t be long before ‘getting away with it’ isn’t the norm anymore for people who behave badly. Word gets out these days. You’re monitored everywhere you go and with everything you do, or close enough that you may as well assume so. You never know where a camera is, or a live microphone, and how long it will be before something ill advised you just did ends up on Twitter or someone’s blog. That will have an effect in the workplace. It already has in fact.

  13. Raghav great article and you have hit on some very interesting topics.

    Richard, I am impressed with your reasoning and writing skills. You have a bright future when you find the right place.

    I am a “Baby Boomer” and drive a 2005 car if anyone is interested. As I reflect on what has changed in the 30-plus years of working. One is that the government has gotten so big that it is squeezing private industry and taxpayers. While executive compensation is often times excessive; the massive weight of supporting public pensions is a burden that will be difficult to support. There is a reason F500 companies have all but eliminated defined benefit programs.

    I understand why last week workers were picketing for an increase in minimum wage rates. The gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” has never been wider.

  14. To me, Harvey’s research is meaningless. If he is not comparing how ‘narcissistic’ and ‘entitled’ Gen U/Y is to how ‘narcissistic’ and ‘entitled the Baby Boomers or Gex X were at the same age…then it’s not really telling me anything. His study might as well be a comparison of age. (ie…in general, studies show that Gen Y employees are younger than those in Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations)

    I would venture to say that these conditions and characteristics having nothing to do with titles and stereotypes, and more to do with the development and the human condition.

  15. @ Logan,

    I agree. Each generation hits a point where they realize their parents know a hell of a lot more than they gave them credit for, and that their kids are emulating their worst behaviors. The kids are going to hell and our parents lived in a golden age, is ever the claim. It’s never true, but it’s always what people think.

    @ Robert,

    It’s always the people at the margins who feel the effects of declining real wages first, so I wasn’t surprised either. I am surprised that there hasn’t been more pronounced unrest. I’m not sure what will happen with the government spending, but when you get to essentially extort your salary from people with the threat of fines, jail, and even death, it tends to lend longevity to your ability to spend unwisely. Personally, I see little difference between the government and the Mafia. I expect the US government to do what all governments do: keep spending until a collapse comes in one form or another. I don’t know that it will be in our life times, but it seems the inevitable fate of all states.

  16. @ Richard: We are both partially correct, if Wikipedia is to be lieved: The GLBA repealed Sections 20 and 32 of the Glass–Steagall Act, not Sections 16 and 21.


    1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act

    In 1999 the main issues confronting the new Leach bill to repeal Sections 20 and 32 were (1) whether bank subsidiaries (“operating subsidiaries”) or only nonbank owned affiliates could exercise new securities and other powers and (2) how the CRA would apply to the new “financial holding companies” that would have such expanded powers.[191] The Clinton Administration agreed with Representative Leach in supporting “the continued separation of banking and commerce.”[192]

    The Senate Banking Committee approved in a straight party line 11-9 vote a bill (S. 900) sponsored by Senator Gramm that would have repealed Glass–Steagall Sections 20 and 32 and that did not contain the CRA provisions in the Committee’s 1998 bill. The nine dissenting Democratic Senators, along with Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle(D-SD), proposed as an alternative (S. 753) the text of the 1998 Committee bill with its CRA provisions and the repeal of Sections 20 and 32, modified to provide greater permission for “operating subsidiaries” as requested by the Treasury Department.[193] Through a partisan 54-44 vote on May 6, 1999 (with Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) providing the only Democratic Senator vote in support), the Senate passed S. 900. The day before, Senate Republicans defeated (in a 54-43 vote) a Democratic sponsored amendment to S. 900 that would have substituted the text of S. 753 (also providing for the repeal of Glass–Steagall Sections 20 and 32).[194]

    On July 1, 1999, the House of Representatives passed (in a bipartisan 343-86 vote) a bill (H.R. 10) that repealed Sections 20 and 32. The Clinton Administration issued a statement supporting H.R. 10 because (unlike the Senate passed S. 900) it accepted the bill’s CRA and operating subsidiary provisions.[195]

    On October 13, 1999, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department agreed that direct subsidiaries of national banks (“financial subsidiaries”) could conduct securities activities, but that bank holding companies would need to engage in merchant banking, insurance, and real estate development activities through holding company, not bank, subsidiaries.[196] On October 22, 1999, Senator Gramm and the Clinton Administration agreed a bank holding company could only become a “financial holding company” (and thereby enjoy the new authority to affiliate with insurance and securities firms) if all its bank subsidiaries had at least a “satisfactory” CRA rating.[197]

    After these compromises, a joint Senate and House Conference Committee reported out a final version of S. 900 that was passed on November 4, 1999, by the House in a vote of 362-57 and by the Senate in a vote of 90-8. President Clinton signed the bill into law on November 12, 1999, as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999 (GLBA).[198]

    The GLBA repealed Sections 20 and 32 of the Glass–Steagall Act, not Sections 16 and 21.[199] The GLBA also amended Section 16 to permit “well capitalized” commercial banks to underwrite municipal revenue bonds (i.e., non-general obligation bonds),[200] as first approved by the Senate in 1967.[34] Otherwise, Sections 16 and 21 remained in effect regulating the direct securities activities of banks and prohibiting securities firms from taking deposits.[199]

    After March 11, 2000, bank holding companies could expand their securities and insurance activities by becoming “financial holding companies.”[201]
    Aftermath of repeal

    Please see the main article, Glass–Steagall: Aftermath of repeal, which has sections for the following:

    Section 1, Commentator response to Section 20 and 32 repeal
    Section 2, Financial industry developments after repeal of Sections 20 and 32
    Section 3, Glass–Steagall “repeal” and the financial crisis

    The above article also contains information on proposed reenactment, or alternative proposals that will have the same effect or a partial reinstatement effect.


    Re; Dot com good times. I’m equating all the 90s as relatively good times, and the creation of 22,700.000 jobs from 1993-200 constitutes “good times”. From my perspective, the main losers in were those renters and buyers priced out of rapidly-increasing housing markets, and those affected by welfare reform. In my own case, I ended up in one or two years in the mid 90’s as a contract recruiter making more than my entire cumulative income from the ’70s until then. I had my best earning years then, and so did most of my colleagues. In terms of constant dollars, I am now making am making a decent contract recruiting rate, and this is equivalent to what I made in 199 in constant dollars. In summary: “Yes, I think a rapidly expanding labor market (a seller’s market) is good for the country as a whole and also very good for recruiters.

    The Feds are “rop a massive bomb of easy money on to the US” to the tune of $85 G/mo in purchased bonds, which has led to an increase in the stock and real-estate markets. Is this good or bad? I’m no economist.I do suspect we’ll have to d deal with the consequences of the massive credit card and student loan debts within a number of years, and let’s not even discuss the sovereign debt crisis (i.e. China’s our economy’s lender, big-time).

    There are ALWAYS ways around the system: black markets, grey markets, of =the books, under the table…However, I think that part of a country’s and it’s peoples “health” is determined by how small a portion of the overall economy it is.
    I do not look forward to a time where ordinary people have to hustle and scam to get by, or where to have a middle-class lifestyle with a FT, well-paid, well-benefited, stable job, you have to act like a sociopath (see above).

    I am in favor of increased employment transparency, I just don’t think it will affect very many people in the current “seller’s market” i.e. it’ll allow people who could conceivably have a number of opportunities to decide which one they want /don’t want, but I think most people can’t pick and choose- they accept the one offer they get, and “hold their noses” if necessary…




  17. Every recruit is different, and many of these undesirable qualities can be identified during pre-screening. I am part of Gen Y, and have been in the workforce as a technical recruiter for over six years. My brother recently graduated with a Computer Engineering degree and was placed with a Top Secret clearance, working on a Federal project. I don’t think any of these qualities describe him, and I think the FBI would agree 🙂 With three major generations in the workforce (Boomers/Gen X/Gen Y), there are definitely going to be collisions in each generations attitude towards work. Since Boomers are Gen Y’s parent’s age, I am not at all surprised that there is friction in the workplace. Our generation is much more technically inclined than previous generations, and I have seen this rub Boomers the wrong way. These technical skills are in high demand, which translates into actual entitlement or perceived entitlement by other generations that are not as technically inclined. Overall, I think there is way too much stereotyping that goes on regarding my generation, much of which is unfounded.

  18. @ Thea: Well said. I think that lumping tens of millions of individuals together based purely on rather-fuzzy age parameters makes only slightly more sense than grouping people based on their astrological sign. However, I bet it’s easier to get consulting/speaking gigs talking about: “The Workplace Challenges of Gen Y” than you can talking about “The Workplace Challenges of Leos”.


  19. Hi Keith,

    Glass Steagal was really a broader banking act, the GS moniker is used to refer variously to the whole thing or the provisions on mixed banking. FDIC was part of the same act, and was a contributor to the problem as well. People might care a lot more about what the bank is doing with their money if it wasn’t ‘insured’ by the federal government, and I think bankers would be a lot more careful of what’s on the balance sheets, regardless of where loans originated, if they knew they were liable for losses, not some faceless ‘corporation’ which only really exists as a legal construct. Reenactment or further repeals of even more of it will not help I feel, the system is basically too messed up to salvage. What I would do is keep an eye on parallel systems developing along side of our current banking system that let people sidestep the problems.

    WRT to the Fed, it all hinges on your opinion of economics. After studying it for a while in school and having a professor who was very fair, I ended up in the Austrian camp, which he disagreed with, and I’d say any job created by an inflationary boom is not necessarily good. It may survive the bust, but it will always be at the expense of another opportunity. In the end it’s not spending that drives the economy, it’s savings. When you get money you can spend it now or later, but not both. What’s spent is spent, what’s saved is what is used for investment, and each decision comes at the expense of the other. Dropping that money bomb makes it look like you can increase spending and saving at the same time because there’s just more money flying around, but there is, in the end, no more steel, plastic or other raw materials, labor, buildings, and other resources in the world than before. Production of some would be stimulated but it won’t be sustained and it would always be at the expense of other undertakings. And those who get the money first and spend it first, usually the poltiically connected bankers of the world, basically get to orchestrate a giant rip off on the rest of us because they spend it before it’s devalued, and then when the whole thing goes south they and their cronies in the government do a direct money grab via taxes and bail themselves out and leave us with the tab. And we also get the unemployment as businesses tank and we all try and figure out, with the new assessment of where we stand financially, just what it is we truly value.

    I personally don’t see people hustling and scamming as such, I see them simply looking at the available system and saying, “No thanks, I’ll do this on my own.” I see them eventually saying that WRT everything from banking to security. Where our minds differ I think is I don’t think operating outside the ‘law’ is necessarily wrong. So long as your actions are ethical and moral, that’s what matters to me. And I believe the law parted ways with ethics and morality a long time ago.

  20. @ Richard:

    I think there are a lot of interesting parallel systems going on- Bit Coin, local currencies, Islamic scholars trying to make a viable modern financial system that’s not based on interest, etc. At the same time, I think the vast majority of folks in the wealthy countries are going to continue to be part of the world financial system with large central banks like the Fed and the European Central Bank overseeing macro- economic policy to varying degrees of success.

    As far as economics- I’m basically a Keynesian and you’re an Austrian. There’s not too much we can agree on.

    I’d heard something interesting today where China is going to have to change its economy from one based on savings and the construction of infrastructure to one more based on consumer demand, and that’s going to be rather difficult to do.

    Re “hustling and scamming”: when I was growing up, there was a great desire for alternatives to “the system” and many people tried various new types of social, political, economic, cultural, and religious experiments. Some of these worked and some of these didn’t, but by and large, even the ones that did work for long periods of time had problems in scaling- by and large, most people today in rich countries are part of a cash economy working as employees in a largely urban economy. IMHO, it will take a serious, fast-acting problem to greatly change this and have more than a rather small number of people “doing this themselves” or “voluntarily opting out”. As an example, while I might wish otherwise, unless something really catastrophic happens (and I don’t like catastrophes), most Americans will continue driving their cars solo to and from work and using a lot of fossil fuel in the process. I’ve learned over the decades that many people are very reluctant to change, and will often prefer a dysfunctional situation to an unknown one- change is SCARY.


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