The wealth gap: a phenomenon that has occurred for centuries, but has received renewed interest as Gen Z grows politically. Gen Zers have grown up in a world where economic inequity has almost always been the norm. The wealth gap is shaping our perspectives on generational wealth and the value of our labor.
Where exactly is the wealth gap?
The American wealth gap exists along many fronts. There’s the gender pay gap, wherein women receive significantly less pay for the same work as men. Then there is the generational wealth gap. Older generations, like Boomers, have already accrued more money than younger ones like Gen Z. Another factor is the racial wealth gap. In the United States, white households, on average, have significantly more financial resources than Black and brown households.
There’s also the starkest gap of them all: the divide between the world’s 2,755 billionaires and the rest of the world. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates all have way more money than they could ever need in a lifetime. This divide leaves the rest of us wondering: how is this fair?
So, what can we do about it?
Some politicians have called for a wealth tax. This special tax is on the richest Americans’ total assets rather than their annual income.
However, a wealth tax can not cure the root problem. The policies and systems that allowed the wealth gap to grow so insurmountable need to be addressed.
How does social media affect the wealth gap discussion?
The pervasiveness of social media has made economic inequity more noticeable than ever before. YouTuber Tiffany Ferg spoke about the implications of wealth and class on social media in her Internet Analysis series.
“I believe that your class can still have a very large impact on your […] likelihood of becoming popular online.”Tiffany Ferg
Many of the influencers that Gen Z looks up to have aspirational lifestyles that are largely unattainable for the rest of us.
But social media has also facilitated some productive conversations among Gen Z about wealth.
However, it has also led to placing blame on the not-wealthy for their lack of wealth. Remember the whole “Millennials will never own houses because they are buying too much avocado toast” thing? While now meme-able, the toxic undertones of the statement are still held by many: it’s poor people’s own fault that they’re poor.
How does the wealth gap pertain to the Great Resignation?
Hiring Gen Z during a second Gilded Age might seem impossible to some, but it’s not. Companies will just have to make some changes to the way they operate. (That is if they are willing.)
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that jobs are not always worth it. The jobs that Gen Z currently has, many of which are service sector jobs that cannot be done remotely, simply do not pay enough. (This does not even address unpaid internship positions that promise experience in lieu of paid compensation.)
The federal minimum wage has not risen in the entirety of our working lives, stagnating at a paltry $7.25 per hour. Simultaneously, productivity, costs of living, and CEO salaries have risen tremendously. Higher wages are an indisputable tool that companies must use in order to attract potential employees.
But Gen Z workers don’t want to offer their skills to billionaires. Corporate entities take enough from us already, including our personal data and our money, so many of us think that they don’t also deserve our time. We want to do things that make us happy, and working 24/7 will not do that. Flexibility and free time are a must for employers to retain Gen Z workers. Some Gen Zers have even turned to freelance as a way to pay the bills and retain a work-life balance.
Employers, policymakers, and Boomers beware. Gen Z recognizes that the wealth gap is simply not fair, and we are going to narrow it.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.