Futurama‘s favorite little punching bag, New Jersey, in spite of being one of the smallest states, has quite a large reputation. Unfortunately, a recent report suggests that millennials just can’t seem to make a life for themselves in the Garden State anymore. Due to a severe lack of jobs New Jersey has one of the highest rates in the nation for out-migration and those who do stay don’t have it easy. More than half of young adults cannot afford to live on their own, which must make Bruce Springsteen upset.
It is nothing new, admittedly. As much as we romanticize small-town life, the lack of entertainment the metropolitan cities provide come at the cost of jobs to allow such things. The scary part is that people aren’t running away for the dreamer’s wish of making it big anymore… it’s become a necessity to obtain an income. Just ask one 30-something attorney, who wishes to remain anonymous, “I’m living at home, have three degrees and can’t find a paying job anywhere! I’m currently working for free so I have some experience to put down on my résumé.” Sheesh!
“Even with a master’s degree, it’s difficult to be able to save, pay loans and work towards owning a home . . . taxes continue to increase but salaries do not,” responded another anonymous twenty-something, “I find it bothersome that as young adults, we have to settle because the job market continues to be stagnant.” You know Jersey folks are upset when they don’t want their name in the paper.
In American culture there’s a stigma around people who live at home past a certain age. These lads are more often than not stereotyped as lazy or uneducated and chastised taking advantage of their families, rather than taking advantage of their youth and opportunities. Thus, people who are stuck in this position, while actively trying to escape it, can more often than not feel demoralized even though the sentiment towards them has changed in recent years. This can be especially hard for graduates who have no proper work experience… who have to constantly endure the whole Catch-22 of needing a job to get a job . Though it should be noted that New Jersey has made laws forbidding these hiring practices, as its not really feasible to enforce since people can use any excuse they want not to hire someone.
These young people aren’t unmotivated, as nearly a third have at least a bachelor’s degree. This can actually add to the problem, since many of these graduates are viewed as too overqualified, or at least overeducated, for a lot of the part-time jobs available.
The folks leaving the state aren’t planning to return once they leave.
“We have three kids living in three different states who will never return! They are asking us when we are leaving.” said an anonymous mother.
Even companies like Hertz and Mercedes-Benz are leaving, which obviously isn’t helping the problem since that will probably take away even more jobs. The state should be mindful of its history. New Jersey, of all places, was once the original Mecca of the American film industry until directors realized California had better weather. You really can’t make a living as a thespian in the Garden state, anymore.
Even the people who manage to find work in the state still cannot afford to live there. As my readers can recall, we’ve already talked about how much it sucks for the working man… woman… possibly child in this state. This is Jersey we’re talking about. Residents endure a high cost of living due to high tax rates, so it ain’t just the unpaid interns living in their parents’ basement. Most young people simply can’t afford things like starting their own business or getting married, even when they at least can afford the necessities. Because this would not be an article about Jersey if the people with First World problems did not remember to make a scene about something. But at the very least, they still get to live in a place where they don’t have to pump their own gas.