Thursday, September 22, 2011

Young Become "Lost Generation" amid Recession: a Response

You can read the full article and comments here.

As a member of this "Lost Generation," I take considerable offense to the comments saying "young people are whiny slackers who were spoiled by mommy and daddy."  They also say, "just work harder to find a job."  Or they comment, "don't get degrees in fields that aren't hiring."

I am a young person.  I'm a late 20-something that was definitely not "spoiled" by my parents.  Who put me through college?  Who paid for my food, gas, insurance, healthcare, and fun?  Uh... yeah, that's right, I did.  My parents supported my decisions, and they were there if I needed a little cushion, but I paid them back every cent.  From the time I left for college, I was financially independent.  Spoiled with love, absolutely.  Spoiled economically, not even a little bit.

Why are kids not moving out and continue to live with their parents well into their twenties?  They have no where else to go.  Housing costs were so high three years ago that I would never have been able to save up for a 30% down-payment.  Rental costs in my town are still astronomical.  My city has a vacancy rate of less than 1/10th of 1%, so moving anywhere is out of the question.  Any of the neighboring communities are nearly that bad.  Kids around here don't have a choice!

Work harder to find a job?  Say what?  My husband was unemployed from the moment he got his MBA and project management certificate.  That's right, he has a master's degree in a field that--when he started the graduate program--was an incredibly open field.  Job opportunities were being thrown at graduates.  When he finished in 2009, he couldn't even get a job flipping burgers.  He was overqualified.  He worked his ass off eight hours a day, nine sometimes, submitting thousands of applications all over the northwest.  He had interview after interview for jobs.  Companies were hiring internally.  Companies wanted more experience--and he couldn't find a job to get any!  A car dealership ended up giving him a part-time job.  That dealership had three employees working as courtesy drivers, every one of them with a master's degree or higher.  (Now you know where kids with bachelor's degrees won't be able to compete.)

I have a degree too.  I studied the sciences.  I have a well-rounded education from a major university.  Do you know how much money I was offered in my first job right out of college?  Below the poverty line.  We're talking a full-time State of Oregon employee.  Below the poverty line.  I have qualified for food stamps more in my adult life than I have not--yet I've never taken that money.  Why?  Because my parents taught me how to manage my money.  That whole "not being spoiled" thing taught me to rely on myself.

So what if I'm part of this so-called "lost generation."  Just don't lump us all together and call us whiny, spoiled slackers who don't know how to work hard to find a job.  You know what pisses me off more than being called a slacker?  Someone unwilling to get out and interact with young people, some armchair blogger who doesn't have a clue how hard young people are working to find jobs, start careers, and begin life away from our parents.  And if it's your kids you are calling slackers, it's your fault.  Please think before you stay stupid things in comment sections.  All the "lost generation" wants is a chance at happiness too--and the opportunity to work for it.

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