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What determines how your life will be?

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  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    What a sad commentary.  My grandparents' generation could buy a home and raise a family on a janitor's salary, now there is no state in the union where a full time job at minimum wage can pay for a two bedroom apartment.

    bfpzrzk82k881.jpg

    True, but also look at what the average house in your grandparents generation looked like compared to now in regard to size, features, etc.

    My mom's uncle bought a house in the 1950s on a clerical worker's salary, in Stamford Connecticut. It's worth $2.7 million today. You would need a doctor's salary to buy it now. The only improvement he ever made was hanging a swing from the oak tree in the back yard. His cousin bought a house literally across the street working as an auto mechanic, it's worth $1.8 million now.

    24d2blhwr4881.jpg

    Same as with @ninerbuff more location than house.

    What are you basing this opinion on?

    In expensive areas most of the cost of housing is the lot.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,087 Member
    edited December 2021
    I agree that minimum wage needs a drastic increase, but some of the claims I've seen on the internet and social media are wildly exaggerated as to how "easy" the Boomers had it.

    I saw one that claimed the median house price was like $14K for Boomers (this was a meme passed around a ton by others), which is shear and utter nonsense. My first house was $110,000 and I'm the cheapest house any of my Boomer siblings bought was a $45K house -- and my brother had to gut the place and rebuild it.

    Furthermore, the interest rates on houses in 1990 were 10.5%. That makes a HUGE difference on home prices. My current interest rate is 2.5%. My house value would be cut in half, I would guess, if we ever had interest rates go back up to nearly 11%.

    I've also read stuff like college tuition was $500 back in my day. Well, my senior year was around $5000 or $6000, not including room and board and starting salaries graduating were around 18K.

    A lot of the stuff attributed to how easy "Boomers" had it applies more to my parents cost of living back in the 1950s, not 1980s, when most alive now were raising families.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,485 Member
    When I was in college (1973-77), a large decent state university, quite a number of my fellow students were able to swing attending college by working a summer job (nothing grand, waitressing or cleaning hotel rooms was common), and working part time during the academic year while going to school full time. (The guy I later married went to school part time, I think half time or a bit more, worked part time but closer to full time, paid his way fully that way.)

    Minimum wage was $1.60 for most of that time period, went up to $2.20 at the end. IIRC, tuition was around $15 a credit hour**, and 15 hours was a full load. Terms rather than semesters, so 3 terms per academic year (not including a 4th in summer that was available). That's $675 tuition, or 422 hours at minimum wage.

    ** The oldest history I can find online only goes back to 1979, when it was $24.50. From that point, it went up $4 per credit hour annually for a while, so the approximate $15 memory for the period I was there seems like a reasonable inference from that, too.

    Yes, that's just the tuition part, but it's representative. Room and board was surprisingly affordable, too. People worked their way through, as a common thing.

    The way tuition is calculated has changed a lot, but the same school's estimate for an in-state undergrad at full time academic year student status is $14,750 (just the tuition, still). Minimum wage is $7.25 federally, state is currently $9.65. That makes tuition 2034 hours (almost full time year round job) at federal minimum wage, 1528 hours at state minimum wage.

    This is just not comparable. Students now going to that same university can't pay their way through in the way students commonly did when I was in school.

    I'd strongly guess that when I was in college, a smaller public college or a community college may well have had tuition as low as $500 per year or lower. If boomer-dom is defined as a birthdate 1946-64 (which is a common definition), I'm mid-boomer (b. 1955).

    I couldn't afford a house when I graduated from college, even though I got a decent job (annual salary $11,000-something), but the problem was indeed the mortgage rates, at 9-16%, and the then-standard 20% down requirement (didn't have savings yet). I can't recall how much houses cost here, then. (We bought this one in 1992 for $76,000. This is a low real estate cost area, still. Estimated value of my house has more than doubled, nearly tripled, without any major improvements. Zillow says it's 2.7 times higher, but I'd say that's a little high based on selling prices recently nearby. It's not a fancy location, and extremely not a fancy house.)

    Minimum wage in 1992 was $4.25. So, it's roughly doubled if you compare the current higher state minimum wage, or less than doubled if comparing to the federal minimum. (Not that we could've afforded even this place on minimum wage in 1992.)

    I've had the opportunity to explain 1980s mortgages to a millennial friend (who's a real estate agent). It did adjust his attitude about affordability of housing for us back then, but the house prices still seem to me to be disproportionately higher now.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,039 Member
    edited December 2021
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    What a sad commentary.  My grandparents' generation could buy a home and raise a family on a janitor's salary, now there is no state in the union where a full time job at minimum wage can pay for a two bedroom apartment.

    bfpzrzk82k881.jpg

    True, but also look at what the average house in your grandparents generation looked like compared to now in regard to size, features, etc.

    So, respond to the meme, but but not to what NorthCascades typed with his own fingers: "now there is no state in the union where a full time job at minimum wage can pay for a two bedroom apartment."

    IMU, that statement is true. A modern 2-bedroom apartment may be likely to have a few "mod cons" like appliances that didn't exist in my parents' generation**, but it's not a dramatically bigger, more luxurious place than in earlier eras.

    The parents' generation may've stuffed more kids into a two-bedroom apartment because the average family was bigger, but that's not exactly the point here.

    Someone working full-time at a minimum wage job had a prayer of getting by on their own with food, clothing and shelter, back in the day. Now, it's laughable, but only because one can't cry all the time.

    ** I switched generations vs. what NorthCascades wrote because I'm easily old enough to be his mother, maybe even his grandmother. In my early jobs, like the "machine operators, women preferred" minimum wage one at the plastics plant in the Nevada desert in the 1970s, the workers were getting by. The women machine operators (minimum wage) mostly lived with their kids (lot of divorced women who were single moms) in trailer park rentals out in the desert, and were scraping by, narrowly. The supervisors and maintenance people (mostly male), not making big bucks either, sometimes owned actual houses.
    How about W.Virgina? 2 bedroom with one bath for $425.

    https://www.zillow.com/wv/cheap-apartments/

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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    9285851.png
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,882 Member
    One thing I know is if workers can't afford shelter, food, transportation, etc, we aren't going to have workers in the long term. It costs a certain amount* for anybody to keep themselves in a condition where they're able to work. They need to be healthy and productive, most jobs require them to be at a work place, have clean clothes, etc. That is effectively the minimum cost of labor.

    * Obviously what that amount is depends on a lot of things and is highly regional.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited December 2021
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    When I was in college (1973-77), a large decent state university, quite a number of my fellow students were able to swing attending college by working a summer job (nothing grand, waitressing or cleaning hotel rooms was common), and working part time during the academic year while going to school full time. (The guy I later married went to school part time, I think half time or a bit more, worked part time but closer to full time, paid his way fully that way.)

    That wasn't possible by the time I was in school, not without loans and grants, of course, and I'm not young, so the idea that this is some new thing is one I disagree with. I do think there's a problem with HOW inflated college costs have gotten (although there are still schools that give a lot of need-based aid and there are often better avenues for students not aiming for careers that actually require college) and I think we need to address some of the reasons costs have so greatly exceeded inflation. Also, there should be state schools in every state where it is still possible, although I also think people need to think through what they will do with the degree (I took on a ton of loans, but had an understanding of what I would have to do to pay them off).
    I couldn't afford a house when I graduated from college, even though I got a decent job (annual salary $11,000-something), but the problem was indeed the mortgage rates, at 9-16%, and the then-standard 20% down requirement (didn't have savings yet). I can't recall how much houses cost here, then. (We bought this one in 1992 for $76,000. This is a low real estate cost area, still. Estimated value of my house has more than doubled, nearly tripled, without any major improvements. Zillow says it's 2.7 times higher, but I'd say that's a little high based on selling prices recently nearby. It's not a fancy location, and extremely not a fancy house.)

    Real estate costs vary extremely dramatically by location, yes. Often the discussion is dominated by the most high cost places, and I think that's a mistake (although yes costs are generally higher in a broader variety of places and the lower cost places -- and I know of a lot of pretty low cost places within my own state -- tend to have poor job markets, although supposedly we are all supposed to be happy now that there's more flexibility in where people can live, bc of commuting, so that should address some of the issue).

    Even within the metro area where I live, there are huge variations in housing costs (and within areas large differences in rent costs based on type of unit). There are lots of pretty moderately priced rentals where I am that are still in older buildings and the like. Yeah, definitely not 2-beds affordable by one minimum wage salary (absent getting a subsidized unit, and there are also some subsidized units), but I don't think that was ever an expectation, really, and has become less so as the percentage of the population who makes min wage has declined a lot -- minimum wage at most should be a starting salary for an unskilled job, not a wage on which a single person raises a family.

    Here's an interesting stat: https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/minimum-wage/2020/home.htm#:~:text=The percentage of hourly paid,(See table 10.)

    "The percentage of hourly paid workers earning the prevailing federal minimum wage or less declined from 1.9 percent in 2019 to 1.5 percent in 2020. [Note: this fluctuation is likely due to coronavirus.] This remains well below the percentage of 13.4 recorded in 1979, when data were first collected on a regular basis. (See table 10.)"

    Also: "Age. Minimum wage workers tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented just under one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up 48 percent of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers (ages 16 to 19) paid by the hour, about 5 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with 1 percent of workers age 25 and older."
  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,712 Member
    I think this has been mentioned, but it's important to reiterate when talking about cost-of-living...

    More affluent areas that have a high cost-of-living tend to have a higher density of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and entertainment venues. These industries rely on minimum wage earners for their day-to-day operations. But those workers cannot afford to live anywhere near where they work. So, they are either forced to make an unmanageable commute, or live in sub-standard, poverty-level housing.

    A resort-type area where we vacation sometimes has decided to provide housing to their seasonal employees, since they would not be able to afford their own housing in that area.

    It's great in theory to point out that you can get an apartment in West Virginia for $425. Are there jobs there? Decent schools? Would a person of color be welcomed or even accepted in rural W. Virginia?
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,262 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    What a sad commentary.  My grandparents' generation could buy a home and raise a family on a janitor's salary, now there is no state in the union where a full time job at minimum wage can pay for a two bedroom apartment.

    bfpzrzk82k881.jpg

    True, but also look at what the average house in your grandparents generation looked like compared to now in regard to size, features, etc.

    My mom's uncle bought a house in the 1950s on a clerical worker's salary, in Stamford Connecticut. It's worth $2.7 million today. You would need a doctor's salary to buy it now. The only improvement he ever made was hanging a swing from the oak tree in the back yard. His cousin bought a house literally across the street working as an auto mechanic, it's worth $1.8 million now.

    24d2blhwr4881.jpg

    Same as with @ninerbuff more location than house.

    What are you basing this opinion on?

    Stamford is a high cost housing market. Ninerbuff mentions being in California which is also stupid high cost. It's the land that is worth the $ not the house.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,262 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    I question possible bias in this article based on source mentioned:

    Robin Gahan, director of programs at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, pointed us to a December 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that advocates boosting the wage
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,262 Member
    Regarding minimum wage, there are few people that actually live on that amount. Not debating if it is right wrong or indifferent, but an independent individual working a full time minimum wage job qualifies for (depending on locality) SNAP, earned income credit, discounted utility payments, child credits, housing assistance plus other assistance. It's sure not glamorous but not getting by on $7.25 an hour either.

    Also, how many people are actually being paid minimum wage. I live in a mid size city in the Midwest. The lowest starting wage I've seen advertised recently is $12 and hour at Taco Bell. Big box home improvement stores are starting at $16 an hour to stock shelves.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,485 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    When I was in college (1973-77), a large decent state university, quite a number of my fellow students were able to swing attending college by working a summer job (nothing grand, waitressing or cleaning hotel rooms was common), and working part time during the academic year while going to school full time. (The guy I later married went to school part time, I think half time or a bit more, worked part time but closer to full time, paid his way fully that way.)

    That wasn't possible by the time I was in school, not without loans and grants, of course, and I'm not young, so the idea that this is some new thing is one I disagree with. I do think there's a problem with HOW inflated college costs have gotten (although there are still schools that give a lot of need-based aid and there are often better avenues for students not aiming for careers that actually require college) and I think we need to address some of the reasons costs have so greatly exceeded inflation. Also, there should be state schools in every state where it is still possible, although I also think people need to think through what they will do with the degree (I took on a ton of loans, but had an understanding of what I would have to do to pay them off).

    (snip some other good discussion)

    At the major state university in question, per-credit-hour fees roughly tripled between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s. Increases were fast, pretty evenly spaced over the years. Over the same period, federal minimum wage went up from $2.20/2.30 to $3.35 - not remotely keeping pace.

    It wouldn't have taken long - i.e., being in college later than I was by only a few years - before the same institution would've been unaffordable on the "work your way through" basis that I was seeing in the early/mid 1970s. (In this particular case, the cost increases were multi-factor, but one key piece here was state government contributions to higher education shrinking fast during that period).

    The earlier edge of the boomer generation got relatively affordable higher education, IMO. The mid-range is where that started to unravel. By the later end of the boomer age group, higher ed was much more expensive, the big loans were common, etc. (There was also a lot of change in things like scholarships and grants - who was eligible, and for how much - over that period. I'd have to refresh my memory for details, but recall that the rules were volatile.)

    I absolutely agree that there are many good avenues to jobs, not just higher ed - higher ed is frequently oversold as that path. Personally, I do think it's regrettable that we've pretty much lost the affordability of higher education for most anyone who wants it as life enhancement (which I think it is, or can be), and is willing to put in a few years of effort (work + the education itself) to get there. It's so expensive that now it utterly must pay off in career earnings, for non-wealthy people. I think there's some societal loss in that.

    I was a liberal arts major, ended up in an IT career. That education was beneficial big time in my career, IMO, possibly in some nonobvious ways. To me, the life value of the totality of the higher ed experience, in quality of life terms, was an even bigger deal, but that's maybe eccentric.

    In terms of the thread, though, I think education can potentially be an element in "success" broadly defined, i.e., beyond payoff in earning potential. That perception will be individual, of course.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,882 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    I question possible bias in this article based on source mentioned:

    Robin Gahan, director of programs at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, pointed us to a December 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that advocates boosting the wage

    Do you dispute any of the facts in the article? Nothing seemed unusual to me
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited December 2021
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Personally, I do think it's regrettable that we've pretty much lost the affordability of higher education for most anyone who wants it as life enhancement (which I think it is, or can be), and is willing to put in a few years of effort (work + the education itself) to get there.

    I agree -- that's why I wish there was some way to have at least some state options that mimicked what used to be. In looking at my own (private) alma mater, I see some changes that I think are part of the problem -- it is much more luxurious, and there is significant admin bloat. But that school (like many other private schools of its type) does provide a lot of need-based aid now, as back when I went there (even if you still cannot generally work your way through).

    When I was in high school I was obsessed with colleges, and there were various good (or just funny) college guides that were up-to-date, but I found this late '60s (maybe early '70s) guide aimed at people who were part of/attracted to the counter culture. I found that part bizarre/amusing (the college I ended up going to was dismissed as largely straight or establishment or some such), but the tuition and room and board numbers blew my mind in an opposite way as those today.

    That all aside, I think the rhetoric about the problem being that too few people go to college and that everyone should is damaging. We should instead do a better job at giving people alternatives that also lead to good, well-paying careers, like in the trades. My high school had a career training option for jrs and srs where you eventually got matched with internships and got good job training as well as a high school education, and I think that kind of thing would be great for some. While I loved school and would have wanted to go to college regardless of my later career, I think it's true that many do not, and have no need for or value from college (and many, many "colleges" these days are glorified and overly expensive trade schools anyway), so if one can have a track that leads there without that cost, that would be better. I think one problem is most policy-makers tend to be people like you and me who loved school and therefore assume most would if they had the same basic experience. I don't think that's a fair assumption.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,262 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    I question possible bias in this article based on source mentioned:

    Robin Gahan, director of programs at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, pointed us to a December 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that advocates boosting the wage

    Do you dispute any of the facts in the article? Nothing seemed unusual to me

    To be honest I didn't fact check it but the antennae always go up when I see something coming from a liberal/conservative think tank.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,485 Member
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Personally, I do think it's regrettable that we've pretty much lost the affordability of higher education for most anyone who wants it as life enhancement (which I think it is, or can be), and is willing to put in a few years of effort (work + the education itself) to get there.

    I agree -- that's why I wish there was some way to have at least some state options that mimicked what used to be. In looking at my own (private) alma mater, I see some changes that I think are part of the problem -- it is much more luxurious, and there is significant admin bloat. But that school (like many other private schools of its type) does provide a lot of need-based aid now, as back when I went there (even if you still cannot generally work your way through).

    When I was in high school I was obsessed with colleges, and there were various good (or just funny) college guides that were up-to-date, but I found this late '60s (maybe early '70s) guide aimed at people who were part of/attracted to the counter culture. I found that part bizarre/amusing (the college I ended up going to was dismissed as largely straight or establishment or some such), but the tuition and room and board numbers blew my mind in an opposite way as those today.

    I worked at the university for 30 years after graduating from it. Part - definitely not all! - of the administrative bloat was regulatory. The scope of higher-ed-specific regulation increased a lot starting in the 1970s, ditto for research and research-funding regulation. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing - mostly positive, in fact, IMO: Research safety and ethics, careful accounting for grant research funds, nondiscrimination, and more.) We had whole big departments devoted to various areas of regulatory compliance, and they weren't sitting on their hands.

    An unappreciated aspect of large universities is that so. many. kinds. of regulations apply. Education and research, sure; but many also run health centers and hospitals, some have full police departments (ours did), all the employment regs apply, etc.

    Higher ed is staffing-centric, too. Like other institutions depending on people-centric functions, the impact of things like health care cost increases were massive. Over my work life, health care costs went from literally a small number of bucks a month per person to hundreds. With a workforce of 10,000 or so full time workers (faculty, dorms, grounds, admin, etc.) that's a big deal.

    I went to a hippie-esque residential college within the giant state university, BTW. It was a good resting place for slackers, but also a good place for people who really wanted to dig into diverse multidisciplinary topics. I had a self-designed (faculty overseen) concentration in computer programming and applications, within the hippie-dippie-liberal-artsy context (analyze! synthesize! integrate!). That was triggered by a computer graphics class (so primitive, then!) that I probably wouldn't have been exposed to in another setting. It worked out well, for my tastes.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,262 Member

    [/quote]

    I agree -- that's why I wish there was some way to have at least some state options that mimicked what used to be. In looking at my own (private) alma mater, I see some changes that I think are part of the problem -- it is much more luxurious, and there is significant admin bloat. But that school (like many other private schools of its type) does provide a lot of need-based aid now, as back when I went there (even if you still cannot generally work your way through).[/quote]

    I have actually lived in the town I went to college in (commuting to jobs with my employer in surrounding communities). The school was 20k students then and now.

    Back in the late 1970s/early 80's when I was attending, the typical student apartment was 2 bedrooms, one bath, kitchen and living room. There were 4 students per apartment.

    Now, based on my son and his friends attending the same schools, very few students share a bedroom. The typical apartment is 4 students, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms. Has to be a cost driver.

    In the day, the student rec building was the field house which general students could use when the teams weren't practicing. The weight room for general use was 2 Universal multi-station machines. Now there is a 170k sq ft general recreation building that had a $45M price tag 5 years ago, paid by student fees.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,882 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »

    I question possible bias in this article based on source mentioned:

    Robin Gahan, director of programs at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, pointed us to a December 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that advocates boosting the wage

    Do you dispute any of the facts in the article? Nothing seemed unusual to me

    To be honest I didn't fact check it but the antennae always go up when I see something coming from a liberal/conservative think tank.

    To be clear, you don't even suspect that any of the facts are untrue but you don't believe it anyway? Ok.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 20,938 Member
    ReenieHJ wrote: »
    Just interested in people's perspective is all. :) How far does our beginning in life go towards creating who we are? And what other factors do you feel come into play?

    I attribute a lot of where I am now to my Christian upbringing, and the fact that my parents read to me and encouraged me to read from a very early age, and the fact that my family travelled, and the fact that my parents got me onto a bicycle at the age of 5 or 6.

    We were probably a little below middle class most of my early years .. actually probably until my 30s. So wealth didn't come into it and still doesn't. I had to work hard and didn't have a lot of things just handed to me and that's still the case in many respects.

    Am I successful? I suppose I am in some areas. Not in the fame and fortune sense, and that doesn't interest me. But in the sense of being reasonably content with a bit of restlessness and curiosity thrown in.