In 2005, Carolina Alguacil, then a 27-year-old publicist, wrote a letter to this newspaper to vent because she was tired of sharing a flat, earning 1,000 euros and a post-university life that was not exactly what she had been promised. The letter was titled “I am a mileurista”, and in it she explained that both she and her friends felt trapped in a vital trap due to precariousness, the rising price of housing, and the salary they earned, always around those 1,000 euros. Carolina complained, in short, of continuing to live as a kind of “eternal student” without being one and without wanting to be one. The text gave rise to a report in this newspaper. That report was followed by others, in many different media, including foreign ones, as well as studies and books. The word and the concept made a fortune and came to enter the RAE. And Carolina, much to her regret, became the spokesperson for a generation that, for the first time, thought that it might not live better than the previous one. Something was beginning to go wrong for young people in that Spain that had just started a millennium and the young publicist knew how to sniff it out.
However, Spain was growing at 3.5% at the time. That year unemployment fell to 8.9%, the best record since 1978, the real estate bubble swelled happily, revolutionizing the economy and triggering employment and profit levels in the construction sector. Only some specialists branded as ashes and poopers pointed out certain ugly clouds on the horizon. The rest is already known: the Great Recession of 2008 was followed by the Great Seclusion of the pandemic. And to this, a war in Europe that has once again turned economic forecasts upside down.
What happened to Carolina, meanwhile?
17 years after the first date, the protagonist of the report and the reporter of that time cross paths again in a restaurant in Madrid. In 2005 she ordered a chickpea salad at a tavern for thirtysomethings in Barcelona. Now, both decide on the menu of the day (salad and a stew) in a place specialized in people who meet for work reasons. The inventor of the word “mileurista” is already a 44-year-old woman, married, with a daughter and a permanent job in an advertising agency in Madrid. Two years after sending the letter, she left the apartment where she lived with some friends and moved with her boyfriend — now her husband — to another in Barcelona. Later they moved to Córdoba. The gale of the 2008 crisis meant that in 2013 both lost their jobs almost simultaneously. Carolina recovered it quickly, but already in Madrid. Her husband, an engineer, followed her. It took her a few more months to find a job. In 2015, ten years after appearing in the first report, her daughter was born. They mortgaged a house near Madrid-Río, a modern, pleasant and appreciated neighborhood of the capital. She earns 1,900 euros. He 1,500. They don’t save, but they don’t complain. “We’re doing well,” she sums it up.
Carolina’s generation, those born in the mid-seventies, the last of the so-called baby boom, escaped, albeit with bruises, the successive tides of economic crises. When they struck, they had already had time to enter the world of work. In 2005, the unemployment rate for those under 25 was around 20%. Now it scales to more than 45%. When Carolina sent her letter complaining about living in a shared apartment, the rate of young people between 20 and 29 years old who lived with her parents was 70%. Now it exceeds 77% and continues to grow.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
“What I see now, with the perspective of the years,” says Carolina, “is that we, even then, were the first to realize that if you study you will do well, that you will progress in order ascending, because it was not true. Not at all. The difference is that today’s people, the youngest, were born with it, they have always developed in crisis. Both when studying and in the world of work. They are natives of the crisis.” She herself wonders if that is better or worse. And she doesn’t have a clear answer: “On the one hand it’s worse, of course. Always live like this… Buff. But on the other, they are more resilient, more made for this.” Still, she thinks of herself and her co-workers and adds, “I’m already the veteran in my agency, the old woman (What things are). And my younger colleagues are on scholarships, with contracts that are renewed, they earn little and live in Madrid, which is an expensive city”. And he adds: “I see them more resigned. What for us was a shocka surprise, for them it is something assumed, and there they are, giving the callus “.
After the reports of mileuristas, in fact, reports of nimileurists, that is, of young people who aspired to win those 1,000 euros that Carolina abjured. The amount, truly emblematic, became, last February, the new ceiling of the Interprofessional Minimum Wage (SMI). In 2005 it did not reach 600 euros. Carolina is not convinced that the new mileuristas are the ones who enter the SMI because she still does not believe that 1,000 euros is a decent salary for anyone. Neither then nor now. She “she says a lot about how the country is doing compared to others in Europe”. When she compares the pension that her father receives, of more than 2,500 euros, with her own salary in what is supposed to be the most productive stage of her working life, she lights up with rage, as when she was 27 years old. “And I consider that my father deserves his full pension, eye. What happens is that we…”.
There is one thing that, in his opinion, unites his generation with the new ones —separating them from their parents—, and that is the dark way of looking at the future: “My parents, so to speak, wore new shoes, there were many things to build and to do, they built the house they wanted. Nothing could go wrong. And now we, as much as we think positively and although nothing is written, we know that things are not going to get better. There is the environment, global warming, the economy that is bound to decline, and every man for himself. The uncertainty I had when I sent the letter to the newspaper I have for the generations to come. For my daughter, for example. So today I would send the same letter again.”
Exclusive content for subscribers
read without limits