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I Grew Up in “The Lost Decade”

And it somehow gave me direction

Photo courtesy of Washington Post

Ah, my childhood.

According to a Washington Post article entitled, “Aughts were a lost decade for the U.S. economy, workers”:

The U.S. economy has expanded at a healthy clip for most of the last 70 years, but by a wide range of measures, it stagnated in the first decade of the new millennium. Job growth was essentially zero, as modest job creation from 2003 to 2007 wasn’t enough to make up for two recessions in the decade. Rises in the nation’s economic output, as measured by gross domestic product, was weak. And household net worth, when adjusted for inflation, fell as stock prices stagnated, home prices declined in the second half of the decade and consumer debt skyrocketed.

Photo courtesy of Washington Post

Now, full disclosure: I was born in 1986 — in the middle of the Reagan administration and during a period of great economic growth.  I was 13 when the “lost decade” began and 23 when it ended.  So my formative years were defined by two recessions and, most recently, the most constricted economic climate since the Great Depression.  I graduated college and began my job search at a time when talk of layoffs and unemployment (especially in Michigan, where I was living at the time) evoked feelings of terror and panic.

People my age have never experienced great economic prosperity and we entered the job market at the worst possible time, so we don’t know anything other than the bloodbath that is the “lost decade” job hunt.

But, in the end, for all the doom and gloom, I like to think it made it made me stronger (and dare I suggest my generation as a whole) — much the same way the Great Depression made our grandparents stronger.  We don’t take employment for granted and we learned to work for what we have.

The decade may be lost on some, but I sure as hell learned a lot.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “I Grew Up in “The Lost Decade”

  1. I am from Windsor, ON. Windsor’s economy relied a lot on the automotive industry. My mom worked for GM. I remember since 1995 she was worried about losing her job. In the year 2008, I spent 9 months unemployed and looking for work daily. And 3 months employed as a temporary factory employee making the minimum. Times are definitely not easy anymore.

    Posted by ikehaus | January 6, 2010, 12:22 pm
    • Thanks for your comment. Being from Michigan and having many close friends from metro Detroit whose families are tied to the automotive industry, I have witnessed the devastation. As you said, times definitely aren’t easy right now.

      Posted by aaronendre | January 6, 2010, 1:04 pm
  2. Something else people don’t realize about the closing of the auto factories is that it is more than just the GM/Ford/Chrysler plant. There are so many other factories that do warehousing, moulds, foams, plastics, and prior assembly before it makes it to the big factory. So a lot of other companies went under as a result.

    I ended up having to move out west because you could actually get a job, but over this last year it has become pretty difficult to even get work here.

    We definitely live in an interesting time too. I wonder how it will affect our generation. I know back home there are a lot of people who are less materialistic than out here because the city was hit 10-15 years before the rest of the country.

    Posted by ikehaus | January 6, 2010, 2:05 pm

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