Crumpton took a job selling insurance on commission for Prudential. She worked nights, while her parents watched her daughter. It took more than four years for the family to financially recover from the hit—to move into their own home and for Crumpton to find a better-paying job in a different field at a savings and loan.
Her daughter, now the mother of two, didn’t want to talk on the record for this story. But Crumpton recalls that, at the time, her child “didn’t seem to realize the extent of what was going on—that her mom was unemployed and hanging out.”
Yet, the lessons from that 1980s recession shaped the family’s dynamic for years to come, as it could with Tessa and Dasia. Crumpton urged her daughter to work throughout college so she could avoid taking on student loans. She encouraged her to study science rather than social work or liberal arts, thinking that would give her daughter a more stable career path. Now, her daughter works in as a lab supervisor; she’s been there for 15 years since graduating with a biology degree in 1997.
Crumpton still remembers that tough period of her life, even though she remarried in 1990; moved toWisconsin; and now holds a stable job as a manager at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Milwaukee, where she runs daily operations, writes a blog, and gives workshops on managing money.
“It was scary. I remember feeling awful,” she says about that time. “I’ve always taught my daughter to be a saver, because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Crumpton’s story ultimately took a better turn, but her experience wasn’t unusual, then or now. The current crisis has forced young people to move back home with their parents, accept dead-end jobs, and postpone major life decisions such as getting married, having children, or buying a home, according to polling by the Pew Research Center.
How long this generation, waylaid by the Great Recession, will continue to struggle and whether the experience will leave these young people more resilient or more vulnerable economically are unknowns for now.
In 2004, according to Pew data, 56 percent of unemployed 18-to-34-year-olds said they did not have enough income to lead the life they wanted. By 2011, that number jumped to 80 percent.