Economy keeps millennials locked out of home ownership

Who’s going to live in the McMansions the parents of millennials are building in the Twin Cities suburbs?

Apparently, it won’t be the millennials.

NBC News provides fodder for the “middle class is dying” theme today, following several young people in an economy that, it suggests, no longer rewards people — especially young people — for working hard.

Jennifer Silva, a sociologist at Bucknell University who studies changing class identities among millennials, has heard this sense of that things didn’t work as they were supposed to voiced by other struggling young Americans.

“What I have seen in my interviews is that the working class feels a very strong sense of betrayal,” she said. “Betrayed by the institutions that should help them get ahead. They feel betrayed by school because they think it should have helped, and they were told it would, and they feel betrayed by work.”

“Work is not something that you can count on into the future, and for young people that means it’s not something to base a sense of self on,” Silva said.

Hanna sometimes wonders if she should have made other choices, studied another subject in school, maybe. “I think, what if I did something different?” But, while she’s optimistic, not gloomy in her disposition, she says she’s anxious about what the new American economy will mean for her life years from now. “I don’t have any money saved up, and I’m nervous about that.”

The data on trends do little to assuage her anxieties. On the one hand, 25-to-34 year old Americans are more educated than any previous generation. Nearly two-thirds have at least some college education, according to a congressional report. Twenty years ago, just 52 percent of Americans in that age group could say the same.

The problem is it’s not the millennials’ fathers’ economy anymore, which is one of the reasons why the Metropolitan Council is pushing for more affordable housing in the suburbs.

That’s never gone over very well in the suburbs where affordable housing is seen as another phrase for “those people.”

The Star Tribune today reports on the “fury” that was created in Carver when the notion of building affordable housing came up recently.

“Nine people working for me at Dunn Bros. [in nearby Chaska] don’t have a place to live in Carver” because housing costs too much, said Mayor Webb. “I have one of them living with me. She had no place to live until my wife and I opened our arms to her.”

Leah Oye, the first resident to speak at the meeting, said she was not impressed.

“What if I want to live in Bearpath, in Eden Prairie?” the North Dakota transplant said, referring to the gated, mansioned country club enclave. “Well, no, I can’t.”

Times are good in Carver. They’re good in Woodbury, too. But, the Star Tribune reported, city officials in the pricey suburb are concerned that housing prices are high and more McMansions are being built in an area of the city that was just opened up for development.

“Everyone’s building the same product, where historically there was more of a mix,” development chief Dwight Picha told the paper. “It’s not just Woodbury but all of the metro. The price range is $350,000 and up: I’m not sure they’re hitting the right market.”

Check back in 20 years, when your kid is still wondering why he/she ever bothered going to college, and “those people” are “your people.”