The roaring twenties are remembered as a time when people ate, drank, and were merry. If you compare the twenties to the two-thousands, they would be magenta and we would be a dull brown. They would be "It Happened One Night," (okay, a few years later), and we would be "Made of Honor."
We are in a recession, and if you believe what you read in newspapers, most young adults are struggling to pay for their ever-increasing tuition, fighting to get into general ed classes, and desperately searching for jobs that aren’t there. When they do finally land a job, they will most likely be underemployed, because only half of employed graduates find positions that even require a bachelor’s degree (Rampell 2011).
The result of all this is that this generation will make significantly less money in its lifetime, because, according to the NYT, students who graduate “during a poor economy [experience] a relative wage loss even 15 years after entering the work force” (Buchholz 2012). That graduates will accept lower-salary jobs also means that uneducated workers who might normally hold such positions are having to look elsewhere, making their unemployment rates even worse than those of the just-graduated (Rampell 2011).
This is what the papers say -- and, unfortunately, they are correct.
So, what are we going to do about it?
We’re not going to give up. We’re going to beat the odds. I think there can sometimes be an unconscious tendency to -- as Lady Bracknell says – see such dire facts as a prediction, a destiny, to see them as “statistics [that have been] laid down for our guidance” (Wilde). But if we’re going to best his recession, the key to accomplish that, according to economist Till von Wachter, is almost to act as if there isn’t one. “[W]hile young people who have weathered a tough job market may shy from risks during their careers,” von Wachter says, “[T]he best way to nullify an unlucky graduation date is to change jobs when you can” (Rampell 2011).
So let’s band together and make the most of it. Despite the circumstances, the disappointments and hardships, we still need to work to achieve our goals. There will be times when we feel angry, cheated, disillusioned – and there’s a time for that – but I hope that mostly we will try to interpret this situation as a challenge, as a test of our hope.
I am dedicating this blog to that hope, to that struggle. I am dedicating this blog to the celebration of goals, of continued learning, and to the search for challenging, fulfilling work. This blog will try to support young people who want to use wisely every minute of their twenties: to strive, to grow, to take chances, to change the world, and to enjoy life.
Let’s celebrate this uncertain and exciting time in our lives.
This is for those who will still roar through their twenties.
Buchholz, Todd and Victoria. “The Go-Nowhere Generation.” The New York Times. March 10, 2012. Web June 15, 2012. www.nytimes.com.
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. 1895.
Image: cover of Life Magazine, Feb. 18, 1926.