The Y Generation- In “minus” and uncertainty

“Generation Y” (1980s- 2000) has grown up with rapid technological development, access to advanced global communications and media, and technological skills to quickly learn new devices and access information. We are a generation that must adapt very quickly to an ever changing work environment. Our parents, “Generation X”, […interesting why we didn’t start from A & B, leaving letters for future generations] taught us about planning for our future, employment security, savings and pension plans, financial stability, and the ultimate- investing in real estate. It’s the generation X sign that you made it- buying a home – the goal of goals.

The average young adult today makes 5000-8000 shekel a month. I am not talking about a high-tech or nuclear engineering jobs. I am referring to people-related services, organizations, offices, maintenance. We work the same hours, maybe even more and getting paid less. [Note: I am in this line of work, knowing what I was getting myself into with no regrets.]

We have learned that a “minus” in the bank, or just making it each month, is “normal”. Prices keep going up, expenses in our life add up, yet, salaries for some reason are not meeting the growing rate of our expenses. How is one supposed to achieve all the costly future goals when he can’t even finish the month? I am not talking about fancy vacations or even weekend getaways with friends, but average monthly expenses.

Let’s take an average Mr. Joe. Mr. Joe is two years post-college making 6000 shekel monthly, with his wife, Mrs. Joe, being a student making 1500 shekel monthly on work study- that’s 7500 shekel monthly. Do-able, no? Well, let’s break it down: rent, arnona, gas, water, electric, and internet, approximately 3500/4000 shekel (usually more) monthly.  Food, transportation (without a car), and other minor expenses could add approximately 1300/1500 shekel per month, leaving our young couple with about 2000 shekel to spare maybe to put in savings.

Now saving over 2000 shekel a month for a young couple is amazing. We do need to consider other possible expenses like: setting up house, tuition (if you have no financial support), clothes, Shabbat meals (don’t laugh- staying home for shabbat is costly), unplanned costs (like a birthday or a wedding)… The Joe’s may be left with 500 shekel to put aside a month. So our Joe family lives minimally– maybe saving up to 6000 shekel a year (not even enough for a new refrigerator…). So you may say “… things will get better once Mrs. Joe starts to work. By the time Mrs. Joe gets a job, they probably will need a car, with a child or two in the picture, adding to their expenses.

Most people would tell you that their goal is to buy a home. The Central Bureau of Statistics shows that the average person needs to save 150 pay checks to do so. Even if the Joe family saves 1000 shekel every month.. how long will it take them to buy an average 1.4-1.7 million shekel house? 133.33 years!!!! Sure, they can find good mortgage plans and other assistance (Mom? Dad? Uncle?), but this adds to their already high monthly expenses and the house will be theirs in 30/35 years. In addition, prices of things in our life are not cheap, and there is usually in an upward trend not downward. You get the general idea?

The Joe’s are told they need to choose a field of work in which they can advance. While generation X pushes their kids towards growth, the same generation at work does the opposite for generation Y. It is one thing to tell your kids to ask for a raise and to move forward in their job, it’s another thing to do it for your own worker! Many employers today do not offer generation Y job security options, raises, and growth within their company/organization/workplace. They would much rather change the employees every couple of years, hire students, cheaper or less qualified workers. This way there is no need to offer raises or other financial incentives because there is always someone else willing to take the position for less money. The same generation that is telling us to advance economically and professionally, is also the generation preventing our progress.

An article came out recently saying that the average 30-year-old Israeli changes their job at least 7 times after college. Consider that the average Israeli doesn’t start working till 23-25- that means an average of 1.5 jobs a year! What is that doing for him financially? How does that look for on an employee interview? What of emotional health and self-esteem? A workplace that does not promote or raise wages according to clear criteria to its employees and does not give feedback, erodes their employees’ motivation quickly. When people learn that their work has no positive results and that they can be switched in a second, they may give up, become depressed, pessimistic and eventually, just stop trying.

You may say: “That Y Generation… wants things fast, quick money, financial security- this takes time!!!” Well, after giving the Joe family as an example, can you blame us? The expectations of us are greater than ever before. We must adapt quickly to a world that is not so easy to adapt to. We put out top money for costs and services but no one seems to want to give us what we are worth. Companies and businesses are trying to make a buck for themselves, thinking only about profits (understandably), while we struggle paying bills, with our future being one big unknown. So we are not succeeding financially, working in a job that we don’t always love, nervous and tense about our future, affecting our relationships with parents, in-laws, and spouses.

When you take a look at the Y generation, many of us are not living up to what is expected of us and we are exasperated from running after our tails all month without having any substantial income to show for it. I cannot blame employers and administrators for our problems or their decisions on how much to pay us and who to take for what positions. I do want to raise awareness of the Y generation’s reality. Not because we don’t understand what you are asking of us, or that what you say doesn’t make sense to us. We just can’t fiscally accomplish that in the present milieu.

Where is the common value for the employer and the employee? What are the implications of this reality for both employer and employee? Will employers ever see the value in investing in a long-term employee than someone temporary? Will we see the value of our worth, even though the approach seems to be that we are all replaceable? I wish that our future would be more certain and clear, and that we could feel a sense of hope for family security. It would be a dream if our goals and our employers’ goals would be the same or at least coincide.

Good luck generation Z – if we can even afford to bring you into this world.


About the Author
Ari Wruble has a BA from Ariel University in behavioral sciences and is a certified life coach. He is a full-time advisor and advocate (Hasbara) for Lone Soldiers, Lone Bnot Sheirut and olim families regarding national service at The Michael Levin Base. Ari loves to find the time to write things as he sees them.
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