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Everything is so expensive

Working hard doesn’t seem to offer the same benefits it used to when you consider high inflation and wages that can’t keep up with it.

Over the years, the “productivity-pay gap” shows how working hard doesn’t always get you far. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) explains this as the difference between the growth of the economy (“productivity”) and workers’ wages (“pay”).

EPI discovered the huge productivity-pay gap in the U.S.: hourly pay for workers has increased by 14.8% from 1979 to 2022, yet productivity has increased by a monstrous 64.7% — more than four times as much.

Plus, getting a job isn’t that easy — the average duration of unemployment was 22 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. School often means that you’ll end up with tens of thousands of dollars in loans when you graduate.

Social media indicates that some young people have decided that working hard just isn’t worth it anymore. They’ve opted for the “soft life,” where they prioritize the here and now, rather than the future.

But the youth’s parents are the ones who often end up paying the price for their kids’ entry into NEET-hood. A recent USA Today study discovered that 65% of parents give their adult kids (between 22 and 40) some support financially. They spend an average of $718 a month on their grown children’s food, housing, cell phones etc.

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Eco-anxiety plaguing them

Young people are living through a time filled with extreme weather ranging from heavy floods to searing heat waves.

In a 2021 global study published in The Lancet, more than 45% of 16- to 25-year-olds said that their climate anxiety affected their daily life and functioning.

This extends to money. An iNews article in 2023 detailed how some young people aren’t saving for retirement or the future anymore because of their climate anxiety (also called eco-anxiety).

One 28-year-old woman in the article, Nina, imagines her future as an “economic downturn, loss of life, poverty, a deconstruction of our social fabric and collapse of our eco-systems.”

In turn, she’s stopped saving for a home or anything beyond an emergency fund. Other people in the article have withdrawn from their pension plans because of the impending “catastrophe” coming their way.

These aren’t just the anxieties of youth. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2023 report (IPCC) says that temperatures will likely exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius within the 21st century.

This may not sound like a lot, but if you think that the heavy flooding and severe heat waves of 2024 were bad, the future will be even worse. The IPCC says in a different report that this temperature increase will lead to increased poverty, food scarcity and health issues.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.


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