I am continually surprised by those who are not knowledgeable about (or misattribute) the bigger macroeconomic factors that have driven our prosperity. The American economic miracle, the American dream, is largely a by-product of a brand new territory, open for expansion, a growing population whose material needs and wants grew to match the space for it. And where demand for services and goods made by those people exceeded the supply of labor to produce it. Not to mention 2-4 major wars and post-war booms that produced a huge demand for labor and the attendant growth of wages that comes with.
So for 6-7 generations, we came to associate American success with hard work, determination, education -- where I would argue that yes, while these factors have something to do with it, we were just mainly beneficiaries of a great macro situation. Factories, heavy equipment, washing machines, cars, steel -- these were the things we needed as a society that we would pay for, and they were produced here by labor that couldn't be substituted.
Now, we find that our post-war boom is over, the demographic curve has to support an increasing number of people who are no longer in their prime productive years, and a global market for the best / traditional jobs that has sapped the domestic demand for labor physically based in the US.
And so parents look at their kids and ask, "hey, why aren't you out there getting a job and using your skills like we did, after all that college and education?" Well, Dad, I can't get a job the way you did, because people aren't hiring hand over fist just because they need bodies to fill an assembly line because people want to buy washing machines as they move into their newly constructed 3 bedroom house in Levittown.
The harsh truth many are waking up to is that not everything grows forever, and perhaps this is the aftereffect of what happens when a society stabilizes, and other peoples/countries around the world start to experience the growth that we once had (and of course helped by the internet, trade, and information).