I enjoyed Christopher Orlet's piece on the main site today about my generation's recessionary woes (those aged 18 to 29).
In light of Census data showing widespread unemployment among young people, plenty is being written lately about the economic impact on recent college graduates and those in early-career mode. Here is one example:
Nofzinger is among thousands of young adults considered the recession’s lost generation. In record numbers, they’re struggling to find work and shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad. The unemployment rate for young adults is the highest since World War II, and they risk living in poverty more than others — nearly one in five.
Recently released 2010 census data shows the wrenching impact of a recession that officially ended in mid-2009. There are missed opportunities and dim prospects for a generation of mostly 20-somethings and 30-somethings coming of age in a prolonged period of joblessness.
As Orlet points out, the more concerning statistic should be laid off blue collar workers (or others) who have the responsibilities of adult life: Kids to support, a mortgage payment to make, and no option to move in with mom and dad if things don’t go well.
Not to say that my generation isn’t suffering economically as a general rule. But the situation is nowhere near dire. If young people choose to major in theater or art history, they probably won’t have a job waiting for them upon graduation. If they do it, it most assuredly won’t pay enough to live their parents’ lifestyle. (Of course, being a journalism major, I’m one to talk. The Daily Beast lists “journalism” as the No. 1 most useless degree.)
Although the media have portrayed these struggles among the young as a bad thing, there is a silver lining. There is much to be said for starting with nothing and working your way up, even if it’s darned hard. But that does involve an ugly four-letter word, particularly in the age of Obama irresponsibility: work. I do know many young people who are hard workers yet remain unemployed or under-employed, so I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. But for many of them, the financial responsibilities of adulthood haven’t kicked in yet, so the scenario isn’t desperate. Not even close.
Rather than focusing on current distress, the media should explain the real threat to my generation: unsustainable deficits at the federal level fueled by entitlements. I wonder when they'll get around to it?
In any case, my grandfather’s generation told stories about the Great Depression, having to walk 10 miles to school and back in a blizzard without shoes on. (I now am wise enough to know that such yarns were slightly exaggerated. Maybe.) My generation will tell our grandkids about the time we lost 3G reception on our iPhones for a whole 20 minutes.
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