The recent economic downturn has been hardest on young people aged 20 to 24, according to a recent U.S. Labor Department survey. Unemployment among this age bracket rose last month, bucking national trends.
According to USA Today the Department of Labor reported the highest rate of unemployment among college graduates of all ages since 1970. While the unemployment rate for college graduates is far below the rate for those who hold only a high school degree or less, the bureau reports that 5.1 percent of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree find themselves jobless amid the current recession.
How will this shape a nation of youth who were raised to believe that college graduation was their ticket to “success?”
They had accepted promises of the ease of their futures. It would be stressful, but their educational achievement would get them closer to a home, some babies and a dog. Now they were faced with much lower employment expectations and higher mortgage requirements, while realistic, out of reach for twenty-somethings struggling to pay off student debt with jobs at Abercrombie and Fitch.
In the Great Recession the expectations of an impoverished nation were much lower. Hard work was expected at every socio-economic level. Climbing out of a hole and to the top was fueled by magical movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and
This generation has grown up watching Mr. Smith Go to Washington and paralyze the system beyond function.
Yet this is the generation that seeks a more holistic lifestyle. They reject the “work yourself into the ground” approach that was sustained by dreams of retirement. Much as we are by visions of heaven in the after life. One by one the next generation watched their grandparents and parents denied the keys to the golden kingdom. Pension plans defaulted, plants closed and left 60-year-old men and women without the golden nest egg. This mixed in with stories of men and women dropping dead at their desks, sacrifices to the Dream. The next generation was thinking of a future where work and play were truly balanced, all done with solar power and global composting.
How is this generation going to pay off the golden goose that laid a wooden egg?
There is optimism to be found in this chaos according to Michael Priceless. Young adults are taking the skills they have developed, the confidence, and the sense of independence to work in Thailand and China, to volunteer with organizations in fields for which they hope to work in the future, while completely or partly deferring payment of their debt.
This generation may have been uniquely ready for this challenge. They had already begun to reframe the definition of success.
“Millennials” believe doing work that is personally meaningful to them and achieving a sense of accomplishment are just as important as earning a high salary for a successful career. In fact, 30 percent of Nextgen identify meaningful work as the single most important measure of a successful career.
So, CBS News has some great advice as you march bravely into the job market. Like the generation that emerged from the Great Depression, you, “generation who have yet to name it,” will be victorious.