A Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, especially my own mother and my sister.
And of course, to Mother Jones, the greatest mother of them all who is not related to me.
Unfortunately, a lot of women might want to hear someone wish them a Happy Mother’s Day, but they can’t because debt load, a jobless “recovery,” and the general economic instability in a society without long-term stable employment means that having children is not a feasible option. Erika Sánchez:
Halling feels she is worse off than her parents were at this point of their lives. According to a 2013 study by the Urban Institute’s Opportunity and Ownership Project, people under 30 are today worth only half as much as their parents were at the same age. Unemployment for people ages 16 to 24 hovers at around 16 percent, which is twice the national rate (PDF).
The Pew Research Center has also found that nearly 3 in 10 parents of adult children report that a child of theirs has moved back in with them in the past few years because of the economy. On top of that, millennial student loan debt is staggering. Two-thirds of recent bachelor’s degree recipients have outstanding student loans, with an average debt of about $27,000. Two decades ago, only half of recent graduates had college debt, and the average was $15,000.
But even many of those who are better off than their parents are afraid to procreate due to bleak career prospects. I hear it again and again from other children of immigrants: “I don’t want to have to live like my parents did.” When I express my fears about having children, people often tell me that we can just “make it work,” but the truth is, I don’t want to just make it work. Like a lot of women I know, I want a substantial income before I take that plunge. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
“In theory, I should be able to afford having children,” says Patricia Valoy, 27. She graduated from Columbia University with no debt, and has a fairly high income as an engineer in New York City. But Valoy, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic when she was a child, has what she calls a “Latina millennial problem”: She has to help support her family. Her mother makes minimum wage working for a school bus company and often needs financial help, and her two younger sisters, who are in college, often rely on Patricia to pay for fees, books and even food. She is a cosigner for her sisters’ student loans.
I know how much pundits like to blame millenials for their lack of worth ethic or lack of drive or whatever else that makes them feel superior to young people, but the economic reality that centers profits with the 1% has very real social consequences.
And yes, everything is an excuse to talk about economic inequality, even Mother’s Day.