Most are familiar with the Participation Rate as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its continual decline. Much has been made, pro and con, about this number. Some say it underestimates the situation and others that it exaggerates the situation. It points out the lack of jobs or it points out the slackers we have become. The meaning of the number is, as usual, in the eye of the beholder.

Most are also familiar with the dilemma faced by the millennials who have been bamboozled into believing the so-called American educational dream-go to college, graduate, get your career job, pay off any loans, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc., etc., etc.

Unfortunately many millennials are still calling Mom and Dad’s basement home and the educational dream has become the nightmare. A new element called entitlement was introduced to me recently that in effect combined the Participation Rate and the dilemma of the millennials in a new and different way.

A dear friend of mine’s son, 28 years old, a millennial, is part of the Participation Pool. He has a full-time job working for his father in the family business. Full-time may not be the accurate description since he has been known to take time off periodically at his discretion. Something that can be handled since the business has a certain seasonality to it. However, even though the job pays respectably, the millennial has decided to live at home. A practice that has become commonplace today. Mom thinks this will allow son to put some money away. Something that son, so far, has been unable to accomplish after four years.

This sounds like an all too familiar tale. The dilemma I speak of, however, is that Junior’s car, purchased by Dad many years ago, has finally died. Not uncommon for an auto with over 250,000 miles.

You probably have guessed the dilemma. Please don’t get ahead of me.

The 28 year old, live at home, working millennial has asked his father what kind of car he is going to buy him. My friend was a bit taken aback. He didn’t realize that the sheltering, feeding and even clothing of the prodigal son also required him to extend other entitlements as though his son were 8 not 28.

The son rationalized that he was doing his part by being in the Participation Pool. He was no deadbeat. He was a college graduate with a history degree who happened to be caught up in the family business. Not his fault that he spent more than he made. A millennial has certain needs. A new smartphone, an evening out every other night and an occasional jaunt with friends. There certainly was no room, in his mind or his pocketbook, to pay for a new car. That, however, did not diminish the millennial credo

“I should have anything I want whenever I want it.”

That includes a car, Dad, because


PS The Government doesn’t disagree.


Written by
With his passion for economics Bill Tatro has been entertaining audiences on the radio and in seminars for decades. Bill is an economist that provides weekly paid content to subscribers, and offers a free daily "lite" version as well.