The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.I'm not entirely certain any of those things are a bad thing. You're not married by the time your 20s are over? From what I can tell from my Baby Boomer generation, good. You saved yourself a likely divorce. You have more jobs than most other generations had in their 20s? Couldn't that be because you have more opportunities? More skills? Or just don't want to retire with a gold watch from a firm you've been with since the day you graduated from college?
Since pensions have largely gone away and 401ks are king, young workers have little incentive to stay with the same employer for too long. There really is no mechanism (besides that wrist watch) to reward company loyalty. Plus, sometimes it's easier to move up to more responsibilities and better pay if you look outside your current employer.
I'm always weary of generalizations like that, but generally it seems true. How many of your high school friends are the same person? There might be that one guy, but he's probably richer than me (see Brett Fav---rah).
I'm hitting my ten year reunion in October, but thinking back I realize that most of us had no idea who we were or what we wanted to pursue.
The economy might be lengthening some emerging adulthood periods as well.
That argument might go:
I can't get the job I want, therefore I'm not in a hurry to be in a stable relationship, have kids, buy a house, and plant roots.
Also, why were all the people in that video women? Perhaps a reflection of the population of college campuses these days?
Not to hijack comments, but am I alone in tilting my head at the statement:
"The median age at first marriage"
What's the average now? Two? Three? Does Liz Taylor throw the curve?
Sure most of us have a starter relationship where we learn (Oh, the lessons. Oh man, the lessons! How well I learned those lessons.) about what we want in a relationship and hopefully how to be a better partner, but... now we're just defaulting to first marriage statistics?
Growing up is overrated.
I turned 40 this year. I have a 3 yr old & a 1 yr old that I had neither the maturity, inclination nor the financial resources to properly care for in my 20s. Speaking of which, these complaints aren't exactly new; when I was in my 20s, we were called the 'slackers' and The Man was getting down on us for the same list of shortcomings the current kids have: moving home after college, not applying ourselves, job-jumping, cohabitating and generally avoiding adulthood.
Of those, I moved home after college (for 9 months; then I moved here). I cohabitated. I held no job in my 20s for more than 2 years. At the end of my 20s I ended the cohabitation, quit my job and spent 14 months travelling, which I probably should have done at 22 instead of 29. Or maybe in addition to. Come to think of it, maybe I should talk my wife into both of us quitting our jobs & taking the kids on a trip for 14 months.
Growing up is overrated.
Isn't getting a real job a key part of growing up? For younger people the question "what do you do?" is better translated as, "are you paying off your mountain of student loan debt yet?"
And for the rest of us at a time of record unemployment, "what do you do" is just shorthand for "do you still have a job?"
The only people who need to grow up are the Big Rock Candy Mountain capitalists who believe Wall Street can scrape off all the profits leaving stagnant wages and blighted retirement pensions. Sadly, two-year-olds never grow up when each tantrum earns them more candy.
On the job question: To this point my longest employment for a single employer was 7.5 years and that was between the ages of 25-33 years old. After that I went through a stint of 2-3 years in several jobs. Some of the movement was by choice, some not. I've been at my current employer for 4.5 years and don't plan to leave anytime soon.
With regard to the ongoing debate about Park51 or Cordoba House, I congratulate Rep Ellison on his very succinct counter question to Jeff Passolt.
//Growing up: Why does this necessarily have to be about this current generation? I would think that most of us have had that period in their lives when they were trying to determine their identity in relation to the greater society.
// Isn't getting a real job a key part of growing up? Define what a "real" job is? Is it one where a person is paying taxes, has reasonable living accommodations, is putting food on the table? Or is it one where a person is paid for doing what they have a passion for, for what they are really gifted at? Isn't that part of growing up, determining what one's passions really are?
I'm 40 (hi, bsimon!), and let's see. My jobs and locations after college graduation:
Bartender (IA) '92
Bartender (different bar) (IA) '92
Production artist at t-shirt place (IA) '92
Sandwich artist (IA) '92
Residence hall director/instructor (CO) '93-'94
Retail (CO) '94
Back to the production artist job (IA) '94
Retail (WA) '94
Temp (DC) '95 (Jan-April)
Applicant Relations at AMCAS (DC) '95-'98
IA also equals living at my parents' house. My main memories of this period are about how hard it was to find work (I always took the best job I could get at the time), how frustrating it was to have to do pretty mindless work when I knew I had the capacity for more, and how stressed I was about just paying for the basics (rent, food, car insurance, student loan). That anxiety didn't start to lift until I moved to DC, where there were more jobs with decent pay and benefits. My first REAL job was at AMCAS. I've never stayed at a job longer than 4 years.
I met my husband in late '94; we lived together, then got married in '97 (I was27 and my husband was 21), and our daughter was born when I was 36. I'm not worried about Gen Y.