Monday, November 06, 2006

Middle Class Series

New York Rents Are Pushing Middle Class Into The Suburbs
By Samantha Davies

The Big Apple. People move every year to New York City with Big dreams; yet, once here, many endure Big struggles and end up spending Big expenses simply to get by.

Many middle class New Yorkers, like Don Juan of Don Grocery, are finding it a difficult task to afford the middle class lifestyle. Coming from the Dominican Republic, Juan came to America in search of the “American Dream.”

Don Juan grocery, located in the heart of the Lower East Side, “was a lucky find,” says Juan. “In the beginning, my family and I lived above the store. But rent for the store and apartment increased and I found myself struggling to pay for both,” he said. Instead of giving up the store, Juan relocated his family deep into Queens.

Like Juan, many New Yorkers are enduring the grueling rise in Manhattan’s rent prices. In the 2005 National Real Estate Index, New York City topped the list, making it the most expensive place to live, surpassing L.A. and San Francisco. For many middle class New Yorkers, simply affording a place to live is becoming a struggle in the borough of Manhattan. New Yorkers, like police officer Timothy Spengler are beginning to question the true value of a dollar in New York. Many are wondering if they’re middle class at all.

“Statistically speaking, yes, I am middle class. I make a little more than the National average,” says Spengler. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the national median is an estimated $45,893.

According to Spengler’s definition, middle class America would fall at the median. Is the price of middle class living unattainable in the Big Apple? When he lived in Springfield, Illinois “living comfortably was easier” says Spengler. “Here, in New York, I live in a smaller apartment, much smaller, and I’m not even in Manhattan.”

According to economists, the term middle class is applied to those who neither earn an extreme income nor make little enough to earn government assistance. Many New Yorkers, who are considered middle class, are finding it a difficult task to actually afford the middle class lifestyle.

“I think New York is trying to push the middle class out of New York,” says Charles Mcknett, a previous resident of the New York area. “It pushed me out,” he states. Due to increasing prices of necessities and increasing rent, McKnett, found himself not living comfortably.

As a former teacher in New York, McKnett says he was “not making little enough to gain government assistance, but was not making enough to survive. Here in West Chester, Pa., I have a house and I am paying less than I was paying in New York for a two bedroom, tiny apartment.”

In a July report from Citi Habitats, a New York City studio is an average of $1900 a month – for a studio. In Pennsylvania, McKnett says he “has more than the basics; lives comfortably, but still has to keep working to survive.” In NYC he said he “barely had the basics.”

So is New York City a place in which only the poor and the extremely wealthy can afford to live? Are the middle class citizens who establish the American mainstream, being denied the right to live in the heart of America? Due to Metlife’s current pending sale of the Peter Cooper village, 25,000 middle class New Yorkers may be looking for new places to live.

Metlife is attempting to turn the largest middle class housing complex in New York City, into luxury apartments. For those who currently pay stabilized rent fees, shortly they may be immersing themselves in the ever-rising prices of real estate in NYC. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been making valiant efforts to stabilize the rent market in Manhattan; however, this sale could prove to a 25,000 person set back in his attempt.

With rent prices growing rapidly, what once was known as the melting pot might just “push everyone without a lot of money out,” says Mcknett.

“When I first came to Manhattan, there was so much culture,” says Don Juan “and now no one with culture can live in Manhattan; we live in Brooklyn and Queens. Yes, I make rent for the store and my home, but after that I struggle to buy my family the things they want,” says Juan, “I might be living in the suburbs in a few years.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Middle Class Series

How Difficult Is It For Middle Class People To Live In NYC?
By Ashley Wells

Aleeza Lew is an Asian-American college student with long dark brown hair, majoring in English, originally from Washington D.C., who said she does not have major financial difficulties living in the city because she is supported by her family.

“But I am the exception, I could not afford to live here in the city unless I made in excess of $50,000 and would have to live with two roommates, “he said. “A two bedroom apartment goes for $3,600 per month. I too have to be aware of my spending. I have learned to bargain shop for my clothes and I watch a lot of DVDs.”

Lew explained how she noticed many middle class people worked in the city and lived elsewhere to acquire more. Because of the cost of New York City escalating, she plans to move back to Washington and build her career before moving back to New York.

Lew does not plan to have children, therefore living in a small apartment and only supporting herself will benefit her. She fears finding the right job and making enough to live in the city will be a challenge ahead of her, and she feels she would have to work more than one job to support herself in New York City.

Living in New York City is very difficult for the middle class. The common and accepted definition of the middle class, which is defined as those who have some degree of economic independence, but not a great deal of social influence or power. Their annual median income, nationally, ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, according to Wikipedia. In addition, recent economic trends are beginning to show that many people in the statistical American middle class can no longer afford a big city life style.

On the Upper East Side of New York City, Katie Denton, who stands about 5 feet 6 inches, with light blonde hair and a big smile, and like Lew is also a college student, described the struggle of coming from a working class family and living in New York City for school. “I am convinced there are the very rich people and then there are poor people who are barely making it,” Denton said.

Denton describes her interaction with the wealthy in the city with amusement. She baby-sits for a wealthy family and sees how they can afford to spend $100 for a simple baby outfit, and have every convenience in their homes that the middle class and the poor could only dream about. In Connecticut, Denton’s family, who are hard working and have another child to support, can only provide her with so much financially.

Like Lew, Denton has cut out some of her extracurricular activities in the city. “I have always loved Broadway plays but I can not go as often as I would like living here,” Denton said. “I purchase my food rather than always eat-out. We watch a lot of DVD's. No more $15 movies and $15 popcorn with a soda. You know?” she said, laughing.

Rush tickets have become the way to see Broadway plays for Denton and friends for a discount price. After graduation she plans to move back home due to the financial strain, but she would like to move back to New York City once she has a fine paying career in the field of directing films.

Denton said she is concerned that the wealthy in New York City are purposely trying to make Manhattan unaffordable for the middle class. She said she knows the sacrifice of living in the city that never sleeps but she feels it caters to her future goals, and that the city is filled with great excitement, despite its high cost of living.

Behind the doors of a shoe repair store stands Alex, an older man who owns Yuzik store on the Upper East Side, who is originally from the Soviet Union, but has lived in Queens for 28 years and commutes to Manhattan each day to work. He declined to give his last name. Alex, with gray hair and circular glasses, stood in his store recently wearing a dark blue button down shirt with his working coat over it. With a heavy Russian accent, Alex said, “Manhattan is nice but too expensive for me and my family, I have to think of family first.”

However, he said, “New York is worth the sacrifice because it offers a large variety I have to work multiple jobs just to maintain a livable lifestyle.” Even though Alex did not attend college he owns his own business, which brings him an annual income that he considers makes him a part of the city’s middle class. Alex said he feels successful working in Manhattan because, “If I can make it here I can make it anywhere.”

New York City obviously is a great city with magnetic attractions for all, but for the average middle class person, it's too expensive to live but an exciting place to work, people say. The best solution appears to be offered by Lew, "work in the city but live in the suburbs."

Middle Class Series

New York City’s Population: A Class Apart
By Lianne Turner

Kerissa Kahn, a 20 year-old student and retail clerk who immigrated to New York with her mother 18 years ago from Trinidad, leaned over the counter and said, “It’s not impossible to live here on my pay; sometimes you just have to do without.”

She would consider moving to New Jersey if the general living expense got any worse in the near future.

According to recent studies, the middle class population of New York City has diminished drastically over the past 30 years, and only represents 16% of the city’s population as of 2005. Though overall income levels are rising for the Northeast, it is becoming ever more difficult for middle class people to support themselves and their families.

The median household income for New York as of 2005 was $46,659, and had risen 1.9% since 2004 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Middle class can be technically defined as falling within 20% of the average median household income, so anyone within about a $9,000 range of the median would be considered middle class. By this rule, 41% of New York is made up of the lower class, and 43% is the upper class, leaving only 16% to the middle.

Some people are even leaving the city in order to maintain the sort of lifestyle to which they are accustomed. The population of New York City is 8.1 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2004.

Only 27.4% of these people hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which in a study conducted by CUNY Center for Urban Research in 1997 could make you, “almost twice as likely to be members of the middle or upper class than those with a high school degree, and five times as likely as those without a high school degree.”

The percentage of New Yorkers with a high school degree was 79.1%, which is slightly lower than the average for the U.S. as a whole, possibly due to the need for many young people to go directly into the job market to help support a family.

Deandra Leon, a friendly young woman in a blue uniform, was one such case. A full- time mother who works in the safety industry, she considers the middle class to be “people who don’t work on Wall Street. Retail and security, you know?”

She would never leave the city, however, no matter how much it changed. “I was born and raised in New York. It would be really difficult to leave. It’s really hard to live in the city sometimes. I live in Brooklyn. (In Manhattan) some of the apartments cost $2,000 or $3,000.”

Many people who live in New York find that the upper class is to blame for the diminishing middle class. The numbers, though slight, support them in this theory, with 43% of New York making up the upper class.

The same study performed by CUNY Center for Urban Research found that “upper class New Yorkers received the vast majority of income gains, while incomes for middle and lower class families declined in the 1990’s.” That trend could be partially responsible for the fall of the middle class, as well as the high poverty levels that already inhabit New York City.

The number of people living below the poverty level in New York as of 2003 was over 1.5 million, making up 14.3% of the total population of the city. Of the 37 million people living in poverty in the U.S. in 2005, such a large concentration of impoverished people in conditions where even the middle class is struggling to survive is cause for concern for many.

Glenn Grieves, 19, a student at Marymount Manhattan College, suggests a different solution. “Change the economic policy. People who have large amounts of money don’t spend more when they already have half their income hoarded into trust funds for their kids.”

When asked who he thought had the biggest effect on the middle class, Grieves fervently replied, “I believe that government policy made it this way. People will live within the rules and expectations given to them. This doesn’t make them good or bad people.”

Both Leon and Khan agreed, saying that government adjustments need to be made in order to provide for the tax breaks and benefits necessary for the middle class to survive in New York, and for other metropolitan areas as well.

The CUNY study found that “fewer New Yorkers are members of the middle class today than in 1977 due to sluggish job growth, changes in the labor market, and mobility out of the city.”

Almost everything that could be affected by changes in government policy in the current administration.

Middle Class Series

New York City’s Middle Class Is Shrinking
By Bianca Busketta

Twenty-year old college student Sarah Braverman stopped at the Food Emporium late one night, only to be found in a state of frustration and disbelief when she picked up a box of cereal and said, “Can you believe this is $6?”

Prices in real estate and even simple things like a box of cereal are taking a toll on the middle class in New York City. With New York City’s booming economy and expenses, the middle class has been dwindling at alarming rates since the past decade. Middle class New Yorkers are being forced to move to “greener pastures” and mobilize out of the city towards other boroughs and suburban areas.

Without the existence of the middle class, New York City will slowly become a fight between the extremely rich and the extremely poor without any middleman. The middle class can be defined as a group between the highest and lowest ranks of social classes. They have an average income, average status, and an average education -- at least a bachelor’s degree.

With “just trying to survive,” the middle class has struggled to live comfortably while sending their children to decent schools. The middle class comprises about 60% of New York City, which has dropped 3% since 2004.

The Brookings Institution, however, found that only 16% of these families in New York City make up a “middle income.” This means they are only making the average of about $40,000. Besides families, there is also the large group of middle class people who have come all over the world to live and learn in New York City -- college students. With New York University’s tuition reaching $42,000 a year, college students are struggling more than ever to learn, live and succeed in the city.

Along with the cost of tuition and loans for an average college student, there is also the cost of food and nightlife to be added in cost. John Maliszewski, a 20 year-old business and economics major at NYU admits that balancing his money was a big problem.

“Freshman year it was hard to balance food and money to make ends meet,” he says, “But once I realized that jobs in New York City gave me an opportunity to make a lot of money in comparison to kids that go to state schools, I realized a lot of my expenses were off set. I’m also now interning at JP Morgan Chase and they have helped me pay for my metro card so I can live a little more comfortably.”

Others have had a harder time at budgeting their money. Heather Breen, a fashion merchandising major at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising says food and rent money are big problems. “I end up spending $100 a week on food alone. Plus, my rent is about $1,000 plus a cable bill. It can be a lot to handle at times.”

When asking various college students about why they would go through all the struggles and the loans to come to New York City they are all answered with the same enthusiasm. John Maliszewski quickly adds, “Being a young adult in the city is very exciting. The bar, supermarket, laundry, and work are all a subway ride away and makes life much more exciting.”

Sarah Braverman, a dance major, has traveled all the way from Los Angeles, California to pursue her dream to dance and live in the city. However, with all the excitement, she does express fear when discussing her plans after she graduates.

“I know that once I am done with school and am cut off from my parents, I probably won’t be able to afford the rent here and will probably have to head into one of the boroughs to continue my artistic ambitions.” This is a perfect example about what most of the middle class is doing.

Chris Gey, who graduated college from The University of Pennsylvania works as an Investment Analyst at the Citigroup Private bank and admits after college and even with a decent job, he cannot afford to live in the city as of now. He instead commutes from Seaford, Long Island every day.

Although he expressed a desire to live in New York City he says it’s “Not an option right now, because even though I end up paying between $279 for a Long Island Railroad monthly pass and MTA monthly ticket, rent at any decent place would be $1,000 and I would still need an MTA monthly card.”

Is the city to blame for this? John Maliszewski says it’s not the city’s fault. “Manhattan has the best public transport in the world, the best fire department and the best police force. There are tons of jobs out there but the upper class citizens with their high paying jobs will drive prices up. I think it’s out of the city’s hands.” Chris Gey on the other hand, disagrees.

“The city should take some fault in this. If there could be regulation of real estate prices somehow, then rents and leases would drop for tenants and trickle down to cheaper prices. Life would be ‘cheaper all around.’ But so long as there is high demand for this real estate, prices will remain inflated and the middle class will eventually have to move on.”

Middle Class Series

New York City: Where The Rich Stay Rich And The Poor Get Poorer
By Michelle Bonarrigo

In New York City, the city of all cities, the Big Apple, where people come to achieve the American Dream, the class gap is dwindling by the minute. Walking through the wonder that I know as Times Square, one of America’s largest tourist attractions, I was handed an advertisement for a presentation called, “Fight for A Productive Middle Class Economy.”

The presentation will be lead by author of a book titled, “The American Dream vs. The Gospel of Wealth,” which foresees the gap between the wealthy and the poor only expanding in the future.

What does it mean to be middle class? What does it mean to be middle class in New York City, the 10th richest city in the world? Would a person living in middle class in New York City be considered middle class in say Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, Little Rock, Arkansas?

The middle class live comfortably, confident about their financial status with limited luxury. According to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau, the state of New York sees the second highest amount of inflowing wages in the U.S., right behind California, a state much larger with almost double the population.

In New York City, most residents do not have a backyard or a porch, or a spacious apartment or home where they can kick back in sweats and socialize with friends. The typical New York social life is done at local clubs, restaurants and bars, where after your tab plus tip, you may be out of grocery money for the week.

Adam Harvey, New York resident for 10 years, a general manager of a chain restaurants in the Flatiron district, reports making a very substantial income, enough to pay off college loans for he and his wife, pay for a small wedding in New Jersey and rent a two bedroom apartment where they raise their daughter, Emily, who just turned three.

The going hourly rate for a babysitter in New York City is $15. Harvey says this is just something he is not willing to pay so Emily will have someone to take her to the local park while he and his wife go to work. His wife has not worked since their daughter was born, but wants to return shortly. The couple has just put a down payment on a home in suburban New Jersey, a 45-minute commute into the city.

Harvey says, “ You can get a spacious entire floor, a backyard and a porch in a nice duplex for what you pay for a tiny little shoebox apartment here, [in Manhattan]”.

He continues, “My best memories as a child were running free in the streets, in my sandbox, riding my bike, playing in my backyard. I don’t want to have to take Emily all the way up to Central Park just so she has a place to be a kid. I can see maybe moving her back here as a teenager, but not now.”

When asked why he chose suburban New Jersey over suburban New York, Harvey said, “Giving Emily all of the education and extra-curricular activities in New York I want her to have would prevent us from ever being able to consider having another child. I never thought raising a toddler in the city would be a problem until I actually started doing it”.

Janine Macky, 24, who has recently been promoted to assistant manager after being a bartender and waitress for four years at a local two-star restaurant that helped her pay her undergraduate tuition at New York University. She said half of her tuition was paid through academic scholarship.

Macky just moved into Lower East Manhattan from Hoboken, N.J., in June and reports, “what 24 year-old single woman wouldn’t want to live in Manhattan? I’ve paid off my school loans, I don’t need a car at all in the city. I work to pay my rent and going out money.”

When asked why she moved when she was already happy in Hoboken, she said, “As a bartender and waitress, I was on my feet all day, and though the money I was making was great, it wasn’t steady, it wasn’t dependable. Now that I’ve been promoted to manager, I’m making the same money on a slow night that I would on a busy Friday night. I have a set, fixed income now and can move into Manhattan.”

Millenials In The New Millenium

My Misunderstood Generation
By Alex DeGroff

For much of my life I have dealt with the nagging comments and putdowns of elder generations. Our grandparents who lived through the Second World War see us as spoiled kids, expecting everything to be handed to us in a bowl. We do not talk properly, and we do not respect our country. While one could argue for or against all these adjectives being placed on us, we are deeper and more complex than most give us credit for. CBS’s 60 Minutes has described us as overachieving, over-managed, highly pressured…and powerful.

We are no longer just an up-and-coming generation. We are the generation. Born between 1982 and 1995, we comprise of nearly one-third of the U.S. population. We are considered the “echo boomers,” the children of the baby-boomer generation. Born in the first week of ’85, I am this generation. I know that we are cultured in the arts of today, but often ignorant of our rich history. This may be because we have created the very culture that we live in. We decide who has the power over our culture.

We have made some poor choices (i.e., Paris Hilton), but we are also a generation that looks up to those who do good in our world. We fault Angelina Jolie for her disturbing past, but respect her for what she has done recently for orphans. We may not all listen to the aging band U2, but we admire their dedication to ending AIDS and hunger in Africa. We may glamorize some of the stupid, but we admire some of the greats.

Sixty Minutes has counted nearly 80 million of us, that is 80 million people that like to shop. Whether it is clothes or the latest technology, we are a generation that likes, no, we love to buy. Wall Street loves us. We contribute $170 billion a year to our economy. We have stores geared only to us. We love the Abercrombies and Gaps that cater to our tastes, and ignore the stores that still have our parent’s clothing in the front window. It is not a coincidence that the all American department stores our parents loved have dwindled considerably since we came along. We made a conscious decision as a group that we did not like them, beginning their demise, and catapulting newer companies into giants.

We need technology. We are the first to grow up with computers. We have made it necessary for all homes (unless it is impossible) to have one. We have chosen to make I-pods a star. Those of us who follow the news have decided that it is more enjoyable to read it on the Internet, instead of the boring layout of The New York Times. We made it necessary for all of us to have cell phones. I had to sit down with my parents and tell them that cell phones were practically required to sufficiently operate in our society (although I did not word it quite that way). We decide what is popular and what is not. We need instant messaging, and love instant mac-and-cheese. We have become an on-demand society because my peers crave it.

I was surprised to see 60 Minutes did not look at us like many of our grandparents do. We are overachieving, over-managed, and highly pressured. We have chosen this type of world, and embraced it. My generation has helped make this society what it is today. While our parents and grandparents are the cornerstones of our culture and we are forever grateful for what they have done for us, we have become the keystone. It is often said we are the future. Well the future is now. Scary? Yes. But hey, we like it that way.

Millenials In The New Millenium

Echo This: Not All Echo Boomers Are The Same
By Lauren Mills

They are creative, not dull. Individualistic, not ordinary. Smart, not slow. They can multi-task without distractions. Who are these super heroes? Where do we find them?

Just look around. You can find them anywhere. They make up one-third of the U.S. population and they walk the streets, and some even drive cars like the other two-thirds of this country. Many of them want to make a difference and a name for themselves, rather than just being one in the 80 million of their kind. Are you one of them?

If you were born between 1982 and 1995 then yes, you are one of them. The generation is labeled as the “Echo Boomers.” They even have titles like “Generation Y” and “Millenials.” Whatever our name may be, other generations are too quick to label and categorize us as one in the same. How can 80 million people have so much in common besides age range?

A story titled “The Echo Boomers” on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Steve Kroft seems to think all of us are the same. We wear the same brands, we all play video games, we want to be team players, we all like to spend money. Well wait, hold on now just a second! I was born in 1984 and those accusations do not apply to me, with the exception of the latter. “What brands do they love? Sony, Patagonia, Gap, Gillette, Aveda.” No. I have to disagree. I loathe the Gap, and I do not own one Patagonia jacket.

However, I do love my Diesel jeans and I do not know where I would be without my North Face in the winter. I have not played, let alone seen a video game being played, in eleven years. Do I like to work together with others and offer my help when I think needed or when asked? Of course! But I would much rather be the head of my own company, make my own decisions, and let all of my employees collaborate and work together below me. How would a Baby Boomer, the writer of this article, know what I want and desire at my age and in my future?

Not everything, however, that was said is wrong. Kroft did correctly identify my richly scheduled childhood. “After graduating from ‘Gymboree’ and ‘Mommy and Me,’ they have been shuttled to play dates and soccer practice, with barely a day off, by parents who’ve felt their kids needed structure, and a sense of mission.” That was childhood, and everyone else’s that I am acquainted with. Did our busy schedules as children morph us into the multi-taskers that we are today?

The report did bring up another point that I find true. Our generation is very technologically savvy. I know that my parents, and a majority of other Baby Boomers, have no idea how to make the computer function the way they want it. “They are the first to grow up with computers at home, in a 500-channel TV universe. They are multi-taskers with cell phones, music downloads, and Instant Messaging on the Internet. They are totally plugged-in citizens of a worldwide community.” He brings up a good point. I can find out where any of my friends are at any time just by picking up my phone and sending a text message or taking a glance at the Internet.

The article was biased. Some things said were right, but others were way off. When I show up my first day at a new job I do not assume everyone will treat me extra special or take the time to really get to know me. I am not that na├»ve. I will take on the role of being at the bottom of the totem pole, but I will envision myself climbing to the top. With all of the things we are exposed to on the Internet, an “Echo Boomer” like myself, knows that it is a cruel world and that we are all fighting our own battles.

Millenials In The New Millenium

Today’s Gadget-Obsessed Echos Can Blame Their Baby-Boomer Parents
By Alee Morrison

First and foremost, it appears as though the age group discussed in this CBS 60 Minutes report regarding the Echo Boomer generation, those born in 1982-1995, is slightly off. CBS states that the generation that is “so plugged-in” to the worldwide community that they find it nearly impossible to simply play outdoors without any specific task at hand.

This claim is incorrect in my eyes as I can actually remember getting my first computer in my home at age 12, eight years ago. This computer had no Internet and only two games: solitaire and mine sweep. As a preteen I can guarantee that I had absolutely no interest in playing on the computer all day. Nearly everyday of my life my friends and I would play outside until our mothers would call us in for dinner.

This scenario has changed quite a bit, though. Nowadays it seems as though parents are not allowing their children to merely step outside and play. It is more of a scheduled routine that is forced on these youngsters. It is almost as if parents are wanting their children to grow into adult-like creatures as soon as possible to ensure a successful future.

Childrens’ schedules are oftentimes more hectic than their parents’. In my hometown of Columbus, Ga., it is rare to see a young girl, age 5-18, who is not involved in competitive cheerleading. There are about five cheerleading gyms in a city of about 200,000 people, and all are filled to capacity with young girls practicing this sport. It is completely normal to see 8 year-old girls practicing their tumbling and pouring sweat until 9 p.m. until they get it exactly right. When I was 8, I was definitely in my bed at 9 p.m. dreaming about some far off land. I certainly was not worried about the perfection of my back-handspring.

Some of the girls enjoy all aspects; however, it is clear while sitting among “cheer moms” and watching the practices that this activity is forced upon them. Columbia University student, Nick Summers, was completely accurate when he stated in the report that this generation “tends to be very over-achieving (and) over-managed.”

Perhaps it is the baby boomers’ fault that we are all very goal-oriented and always striving to accomplish anything and everything we set our minds to. Our parents want us to be the very best we can be and we were trained at such a young age to do so, that it is now brainwashed in our heads. The thought of quitting college or never attending in the first place is nonexistent in my brain.

However, I was raised in a household, which consisted of parents lacking college degrees. Although they happen to be very successful now, they always planted in my head the importance of furthering my education. In today’s society, it would be nearly impossible to get a job without a college degree and it scares our generation to think of having to demean ourselves with a low-paying job.

We are, in fact, so used to spending our money and our parents’ money on “goodies” such as clothing, music, and technology that we become petrified to think of the day when we are on our own, supporting ourselves and facing the possibility that all of our luxuries that we are used to may not exist for us anymore, due to our empty wallets. It is true to claim that the echo generation is a thirsty one, but it must be recognized that this is something that cannot be helped. It is the way we are brought up by our baby-boomer parents.

Our grandparents were not able to provide our parents with as many luxuries as they might have wished due to the rough times at hand. They had to go through a depression as well as several wars, making their economical lives quite stressful. Our parents can remember such times and do not want us to know or feel what this is like. It seems as though we were brought up in such a way because our parents want us to have everything that they did not have in order to better our lives.

Perhaps the reason the baby boomers were known as rebels is because they did not have much to occupy their free time. We “echoers”, on the other hand, have too much to do in our free time. In fact it is actually rare that we do have time to ourselves to be young and free like our parents once were.

Millenials In The New Millenium

‘Echo Boomers’: The Best Thing Since ‘Baby Boomers’
By Rayanne Mulieri

The term “echo boomers” is being used to describe the generation of people born between 1982 and 1995, my generation. According to a CBS 60 Minutes report titled “The Echo Boomers” myself, along with 80 million others within this generation are the most studied, and talked about generation since the “baby boomers.”

This report touched upon a topic that really got me thinking about my “echo boomer” generation. Dr. Mel Levine a professor at the University of North Carolina states, “they (“the echo boomers”) have been heavily programmed.” Levine talks about how kids schedules are exceedingly busy, with barely a day off. I would have to agree with this statement. Growing up, my schedule, along with the schedules of my friends and peers was full of dance class, music lessons, sports, and after-school activities. Although Levine believes that parents are telling us to take part in all of these activities, I know I enjoyed and continued to keep a busy lifestyle because of the work ethic I developed at a young age.

With the changing economic status of our country, and as the cost of living is increasing drastically, parents want to make sure that they mold their children into hard workers. When you start to develop a work ethic at a young age you will more then likely continue this mentality, and it will hopefully pay off in the end by providing you the opportunity of going to a good college, and securing a better than average career.

The desire to please parents, teachers, and bosses, is instilled in me, and most of my generation. When I say most of my generation, it brings me to the idea that throughout this piece the “echo boomers” were being classified as one whole entity. Yes, we may be born within the same time frame but what about demographics, economic status, and how each individual was or is being raised? These factors are crucial to the upbringing of a child, and of course are severely different within every household.

Let us put things into perspective. Yes, we are the first generation to grow up with such technologies as computers and cell phones right at our fingertips. In essence, we have grown up alongside these also “growing” technologies. As a result, we are used to having immediate satisfaction in any situation because of these tools. This has changed the way our generation gets our information as well as, our patience level. Levine speaks to a CEO of a corporation and asks him a characteristic of his employees who are a part of the “echo generation.”

The response is that our generation cannot think long-range, and everything has to be immediate. In some ways I agree with this. I know I am used to getting information quickly and easily. Heaven forbid my Internet is down, or I have no cell phone service. But it is not our fault we grew up in such a technologically advanced society!

Every generation has it’s differences, simply because every generation is different. Marketing strategies, technology, mentalities and everyday life changes drastically because the world and society is forever changing. There are some generalizations made about the “echo boomers,” but they all seemed to be somewhat positive. I think it is better to read about your generation as being hard working, as able to change companies’ marketing strategies, and technologically savvy; then to read about how your generation is poisoning the world for future generations. The “echo boomers” are what’s “In” and undeniably the future of our society.

Millenials In The New Millenium

Echo Boomers: As Mindless As They Say?
By Lianne Turner

As the so-called “echo boomers” come of age, the entire economy is struggling to catch up. Why should all of corporate America care so very much that a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings are hitting their prime? Because they’re hitting their shopping prime, according to demographers and marketing consultants.

“Generation-Y,” or the “millennials,” as we are apparently referred to, are people who were born between 1982 and 1995, and make up one third of the U.S. population. There are already 80 million of us, so you had better get used it, because we are taking over this country one shopping mall at a time.

So. You may be asking yourself right about now, “How can I get in on some of this hot selling action?” The answer is simple, according to the report “The Echo Boomers,” by CBS 60 Minutes, find yourself a petty, mindless 20 year-old shopping zombie, not unlike myself, and dangle an item in front of her eyes. Any item will do, as long as it falls into one of these four brand categories: Sony, Patagonia, Gap, Gillette, Aveda. Now there’s where you’ll find your problem.

Sony is putting up a good fight to catch up to the younger folk with cutesy items like the Cybershot digital camera (which I must admit, I have drooled over on Amazon) and the Walkman Bean MP3 player, which are quite appealing to a trendier audience. Patagonia, however, I had never even heard of before Correspondent Steve Kroft’s opinion on the matter came into play. I had to Google the brand, only to find out that their clothes were atrociously unstylish. GAP. While writing this, I’m wearing GAP jeans, shoes, and yes, even GAP socks. There, they have me. As for the rest of American “echo boomers,” I have no clue. So far as the rest, I simply have no opinion strong enough to care which razor I’m picking up off the shelf at my local Duane Reade, and I’ve never used Aveda.

Recap? CBS: One, Echo Boomers: Four

The article says, “Only a small percentage are eligible to vote, yet they are already one of the most studied generations in history.” Almost all Americans are eligible to vote once they turn eighteen. I registered at my local DMV. This article defines echo boomers as those who were born between 1982 and 1995, and being that it is now the end of 2006, a number of that generation is now 18 years of age or older. Of the 13-year stretch that was provided for this generation, six years worth of people are eligible to vote, and assuming that birth rates were evenly dispersed throughout the years, 46% of Generation Y is perfectly capable of voting on election day. Forty-six percent hardly seems like a “small percentage” to me. Perhaps our generation isn’t as unimportant for things other than shopping after all. Now, if we could only find our way to the registration centers…

Interviews with college students found that our generation “tends to be very overachieving, over-managed…very pressured,” which I would agree with entirely. A second student added, “A lot of people work hard or want to do well.” This article, however, seems to imply that this is a bad thing. I’m not sure how the baby boomer generation was raised, but where I come from, getting things done is a good thing.

Oops.

That’s exactly what we’re talking about. From the point of view of the baby boomers contributing to this article, I have discovered that they think us to be a mindless group of shopping fiends with no concept of how to handle ourselves without the encouragement and monetary support of mommy and daddy.

Another interesting point brought up in this article was that we are a good generation. And “good” in the sense that we don’t get in trouble. “The use of tobacco and alcohol are at all-time lows. So is teen pregnancy. Five out of ten echo boomers say they trust the government, and virtually all of them trust mom and dad.” This says quite a bit. Five out of ten trust the government. That also means that five out of ten do not. I would go so far as to say that most of those ten got their beliefs from the mom and dad that they seem to trust so very much with their lives.

The article also mentions product placement on celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Paris Hilton and how effective that can be in the launch of a $40 T-shirt, but how vintage clothing stores are popular as well. Those echo boomers buying the $40 T-shirts are probably the ones that trust the government.

While the echo boomers may control the economy, the world is not yet ours. The media and government are still in the hands of the generation above us, but one day America will be in our deep pockets. Let’s hope our shallow minds don’t ruin it all.

Millenials In The New Millenium

All One Generation?
By Kaitlin Walsh

Is it fair to categorize an entire generation in one article? CBS’s 60 Minutes report on the generation of people born between 1982 and 1995 titled, “The Echo Boomers” seems to believe so.

The report, however in depth, is false and insulting to my generation. Being a person born in 1985, I always remembered being referred to as being a part of Generation Y. The first mistake 60 Minutes makes is pushing together two very different generations. Mine, “Generation Y”(1982-1988) and the so-called “echo boomers”(1988-1995).

It’s obvious that this is the largest boom generation in decades and it will affect every part of the U.S. as they mature. The largest distinction between the “echo boomers” and “Generation Y” is the awareness and activeness in the world events today. Due to the constant electronic media my generation is exposed to, we are forced to be more aware.

The waters go muddy between the generations when the topic becomes the ability to sift through the media, and do your own research into the truth. Generation Y has the memory of not always having “500 channels” with a stronger dependence on books and publications. Generation Y is quickly maturing and learning how to deal with the constant stream of media. While in my conversations with pre-teens and teens today, they absorb, and more importantly, believe whatever the media tosses their way.

There is also a significant loss of innocence in the echo boomers. Kids who are nine should not be caring who or what they’re wearing. It’s no wonder both generations are “spending $170 billion a year of their parent’s money” states 60 Minutes. I have heard my 11 year-old cousins talking with her friends about brands even I haven’t heard of. The echo boomers are also becoming more sexually promiscuous at an early age. Today, I walk down the street and hear middle-school girls talk about having oral sex with a boy they “sorta-like” while dressing like they are nineteen.

The common ground between both the echo boomers and Generation Y is the egocentrism. “They have been heavily programmed. The kids who have had soccer Monday, Kung Fu Tuesday, religious classes Wednesday, clarinet lessons Thursday…” states Dr. Mel Levine, one of the best-known pediatricians in the country. How can these kids not grow up to be self-centered? The weekly schedule revolves around activities these kids participate in. A historian studying generation differences, Neil Howe states, “They are much different than their self-absorbed, egocentric baby-boomer parents.” How different are we? The new generations do not have the same reasons to be egocentric as baby boomers might have; yet they are.

With the increased egocentrism comes extreme pressure to succeed and be the best. “I would say my generation tends to be very overachieving, over managed” says Nick Summers, a student at Colombia University and born into Generation Y. The echo boomers have gradually moved towards group achievement versus Generation Y who strives for individual success. “When you ask Kids, ‘ what do you most hope to achieve there?’ Where they used to say, ‘I wanna be No.1. I wanna be the best.’ Increasingly they’re saying, ‘I wanna be an effective member of the team. I wanna do everything that’s required of me,'” says generation historian Neil Howe.

With the constant maturity of both generations, the future is unpredictable. What will the next generation have to live up to? “What would you call your generation?” asks Jane Buckingham of the Intelligence Group. One-student answers, “ Perfect”.

Millenials In The New Millenium

The ‘Echo Boomers’ Are Becoming A Marketing Success Story
By Ashley Wells

The “echo boomers,” also known as “Generation Y” have shaped new forms of marketing and American culture. Echo boomers enjoy living in an individualistic society, which caters to their needs. The nearly 80 million echo boomers were born between 1982 and 1995 and affect the economy immensely.

The baby boomers are the generation before the echo boomers. Many baby boomers are the parents of teenagers today, who grew up in a more collective society. Due to the hard work the baby boomers endured growing up it is no surprise why they want to shower their offspring with many things. A large number of baby boomers started working at young ages and found ways to support themselves through school looking for a brighter future.

But CBS 60 Minutes Correspondent Steve Kroft said in the report, “Echo Boomers”, that “they already spend $170 billion a year of their own and their parent’s money.” This generation has disposable income, which is spent on brand names and popular devices. These items are known as “must haves.”

Although echo boomers have a reputation for playing video games, being on multiple sports teams, create their own websites and bidding on eBay, there are drastic differences depending on demographics. Brands are targeted to different echo boomers. Strategies to target different consumers in this generation are through product location and price. But no matter the religion, sex, race, or location of the teenager they all have been exposed to some form of technology.

An active child can be beneficial because it can drive a child away from crime or boredom, but it can hurt the child as well. Echo boomers have been the generation whose parents planned their daily activates starting in pre-school. The parents’ intentions were positive, once again connecting to their desire to provide their kids with opportunities they went without. But many children never learned to think for themselves and develop their own characteristics. In the report, Nick Summers of Columbia University, an editor for his college newspaper, said, “I would say that my generation tends to be very overachieving, over-managed.”

The pressure comes from society. Because there are many opportunities arising each day it requires every individual to work harder and become competitive. Even the baby boomers that are in the workplace still have to prove themselves in their careers each day.

Marketing has been forced to restructure its method to reach the echo boomer generation. Old mediums for advertising such as print ads, and television commercials are not reaching as many young adults and teenagers like in the past. Today people want to test the products, have free samples handed out to them, and catchy slogans to remember each time they are reminded of the brand name. The echo boomer generation has many options and choices therefore it takes double the effort to catch their attention and win them as a customer. Because echo boomers buy many products each year companies are reaching out to them.

In the report, Jim Farley, head of Toyota’s Scion division, has been brainstorming ways to sell Toyotas new $15,000 cars. He has started sponsoring events like street basketball and break-dance festivals. He describes how sometimes the young adults can test drive the cars. Seventy percent of Scion’s promotion has been spent on events. He has figured out traditional advertising is no longer reaching the mass audience. Echo boomers have the option to fill out a Scion order form and customize their car with 40 different options and then can simply drop the form at the dealership.

Echo boomers have many goals because of the plentiful society they have been raised in encouraging them to want to strive for the best. Companies like Toyota will continue to market to them because they set the trends and determine what sells.

Millenials In The New Millenium

What Is This Echo Generation?
By Emily Yetter

A new phenomenon called the Echo generation, comprising children born from 1982 to 1995 is said to be the largest generation of young people since the ‘baby boom’ generation. A generation where children have everything at their fingertips, including new ridiculous technologies that their baby boomer parents are not capable of understanding.

Children thriving to learn and become overachievers to please anyone they come in contact with. From the time they were little, they were kept busy, enrolled in activities their parents made them do. So many rules as to what is acceptable and how one should act, the pressure of being just as good as the other kids. According to the CBS 60 Minutes article titled "The Echo Boomers," the Echo generation is said to be the next dominant generation of Americans.

Is this really how almost every single Echo generation child is, a perfect citizen that is blowing up the economy? I was born in 1987, right in the middle of the Echo generation. Sure my parents enrolled me in activities, but in no way did they program me.

I chose what I wanted to be apart of, whether it was dance or soccer, or if I wanted to do both and decided against one after I had tried it. It did not matter, it was my choice not my parents. I had structure to my childhood, but not this over dramatic lifestyle where I wouldn’t know what to do if my parents left me alone. Heck, I would play dress up or school with my stuffed animals and would want my parents to leave me alone. My parents did not neglect me one bit, they were always there, but they let me do things on my own, figure things out for myself. I was raised in a laid back community in Marin County, California, which I’m positive affected the way my parents brought me up.

Growing up in New York City would have been a completely different experience, where kids might not have ever ridden a bike without a helmet, or would not know what to do if left alone outside to play. But most children in this generation know who to navigate the internet and chat on AIM with people.

The growth in electronics is one of the main differences between the ‘baby boom’ generation and the Echo generation. The electronics are out of control, always something new being released to one-up the latest technologies. A website that has become popular with this generation is MySpace. It allows you to show yourself how you really want to be and not how you might be. You can chat with people across the world and gain online relationships. But is this healthy for kids? In fact, it’s scary.

Recently in the news there have been many abducted, raped, even murdered children that have created online relationships over MySpace and Aim. They have taken this virtual relationship, that would never have existed in the baby boom generation because of the lack of electronics, and made them reality. This does not show that children are sophisticated, but rather naive to the fact that they are dealing with real life situations.

It is obvious that this generation will affect clothing and beverages and car business. Products become trendy and soon everyone is after what everyone else has. This Echo generation may have a huge impact on the economy, but they have been raised in a way that they are naive to what the real world is and many feel that they should have things handed to them on a silver platter. When I listen to the news I hear stories of teenage drug dealers, teenage shootings and teenage abductions. What is more important, the economy that the Echo generation is creating or the intuition, intelligence and safety of these children?

I would hope it would be the intelligence and safety.

Millenials In The New Millenium

‘Generation Y’ Is Changing Almost Nothing
By Samantha Davies

In the late sixties, the youth of America made social change in the country through the politicos, hippies, and pranksters. They changed the social norms of America, switching a society of boundaries into a society of liberal thinkers. This generation of youth brought about the idea of racial equality and social change. The next generation in the seventies empowered equality and created a society in which everyone was equal, not just considered equal. These were generations of progressive thinkers and somehow the progressive thinking has stopped with “Generation Y.”

After reading the article, “The Echo Boomers” by 60 Minutes reporter Steve Croft, I can now see that my generation may be a bunch of conformist, materialistic individuals who are not changing the world, but are changing media content, clothing, and the “car business.”

Maybe the previous generations have created a society in which we don’t have to fight for change; we only have to fight for success. Or so we think. We’ve moved past the stages of rebellion in this country. And that is a sad thing. If there is no rebellion against the system and society in which we live, than there is no room for change.

Have you ever listened to a group of 19 year olds’ conversation? Unfortunately I have immersed myself in a typical conversation, which only reflects which iPod you own or how much your Gucci sunglasses were. I strongly disagree with Steve Kroft --my generation is not “beginning to change society,” we’re beginning to change sales statistics and that’s about it. We’re not trying to change the unjust economic systems in other countries, or trying to change the war in Iraq, ‘Generation Y’ is accidentally changing the way things are sold.

Buckingham, a marketing consultant of the Intelligence Group, says in the article that this generation is changing the way things are sold “from clothing to cars.” However, shouldn’t our power of being able to change translate into changing the injustice in many areas throughout the world? We have this power, as the largest generation since the sixties, to change anything we want, and yet the only thing people can say about us is that we are changing the economy.

Think about the word ‘echo boomers.’ What does the word echo mean? Buckingham says that my generation has the power of “word of mouth” and that “buzz is more important today than it’s ever been.” But why is nothing changing in terms of social, legal, economic, or environmental justice? The only things that seem to be changing from our power of echoing are the trends and fashions.

We’re not a “perfect” generation, as one of the focus group participants said in the article. We are far from perfect. Maybe this participant has been misled about the idea of perfect. Being a consumer crazed hipster, who wears the latest trends, increases the value of the American dollar, and is categorized as a generation who “loves shopping” is not a perfect generation.

No one is taking initiative. I think the problem is that my generation thinks we live in this ideal world, where nothing needs to be changed. Because of this, I wonder if ‘Generation Y’ reads the news, and this worries me. If we stay on the path of believing that only affecting the economy is a progressive movement, then think of generations to come. Nothing will be better in the world. We have to continue along the route of the preceding generations, who created a better world: A world of equality and freethinking. Let’s expand. But if we stifle, what good will come for those in the future? A higher price for a car? Let’s hope not. “Echo” is to imitate the ideas and opinions of another, and our generation seems to only be echoing the latest Paris Hilton song.

Millenials In The New Millenium

The “Branded” Generation
By Bianca Busketta

Echo boomers of the world unite, for you have nothing to lose but your Levi’s! The Echo Boomers are a new generation that has sprung to life throughout the past 20 years and now make up nearly one-third of the U.S. population. The oldest are barely out of college. They are the “branded” generation.

As a member of this generation, we have grown up mesmerized and force fed brand names. We used to watch McDonald’s commercials and wanted to eat Happy Meals and be friends with Ronald McDonald. Even now, everything is all about a brand name. Generic toilet paper isn’t socially accepted unless it’s a brand like Scott Tissue. We have been brought up to be the world’s best consumers. Instead of spending our money and responsibly paying our bills, we are running out to buy $200 pair of shoes that will become fashionably out of season by the end of the month. With our fast paced lifestyle, we are by passing everything without stopping for a while to enjoy ourselves.

The Echo boomers also live by the “buzz” and the word of mouth. Jane Buckingham of the Intelligence Group states, “Buzz is more important nowadays than it has ever been. And that can get started on the Internet.” I must admit that I scramble to the closest computer during my class breaks to go on websites such as perezhilton.com to check out the latest in celebrity gossip. Whether it is believable or not, it is this information being read and believed by all its viewers. There is no knowledge of whether this information was properly documented. Therefore there is not actual truthfulness behind the information, which is pretty horrifying.

Individualism has also been replaced with teamwork and dependency by the echo boomer generation. Historian Neil Howe, says, “When you ask kids, ‘What do you most hope to achieve there?’ Where they used to say, ‘I wanna be No.1. I wanna be the best.’ Increasingly they’re saying, ‘I wanna be an effective member of the team.’” This seems unsettling. With more teamwork, there will be the lack of leadership. How is our country going to thrive without a strong leadership role? How can we have an effective President of our country for the years to come? We have conformed to society and accepted everything thrown in our way, even if we don’t agree with it. There is no reaction to action anymore. We have become the generation where rules have replaced for rebellion. We are not staging war protests; we are shopping for the latest designer bags and jeans.

Echo boomers have been raised in fear of the consequences--fear of letting our parents down and fear of getting in trouble with the government. There is a lack of individual freedom and expression with rules and the pressures to “fit in” and become average. About five out of 10 echo boomers say they trust the government. With this outstanding evidence, how can change and our current lifestyle occur for the better?

While on the positive side we are advanced in media, technology, and help our economy prosper, on the negative side we are losing our creativity and conforming to what our society and advertisers have to say. We are becoming the stereotypes of what we see on television. And while it is hard to not be brainwashed with advertisements every second of the day, it is important to at least acknowledge this problem we are dealing with, to shed our skin of some of these material possessions, and show our individuality to the world.