Recently, New York Magazine published an article by Noreen Malone entitled “The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright.” Although I was already acutely aware of the troubling times that recent graduates are facing, this article provided some astonishing numbers. Malone explains that almost 14% of college graduates from 2006-2010 are unemployed. Only 55.3% of people aged 16-29 have jobs. Furthermore, “a quarter more people ages 25 to 34…are living with their parents than at the beginning of the recession.”
As someone who falls into that age category and also that date range for graduating college, I can certainly relate both from my own experiences and those of my classmates and friends. Instead of fighting to find work in a dismal job market post college graduation, I went to graduate school. Then, I was fortunate to find a position I love after working exceptionally hard at a part time job that blossomed into a full time one. Both my husband and I still have an astonishing amount of student loans, and I work several side gigs to help us pay those bills. Yet, despite my good fortune in finding a position I love, I realize that many people my age are struggling. Not only that, all of us have to adjust to the reality that our vision for the future has been dramatically altered.
Malone goes on to cite various examples of young people who have been laid off, who have to decide between saving up for a down payment or having kids, and perhaps the most heartbreaking, those who devoted themselves to years of post-graduate education and cannot make ends meet. Yet, despite all of these stories, Noreen explains that people my age are still quite optimistic. We still believe that we will be able to meet our financial goals. We still hope to make a difference.
And, just when I was getting down on my own generation for being too materialistic, apparently that too is changing. Research by Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me, suggests that people my age are becoming more focused on having a meaningful life and less focused on having particular trendy “things” to fill it.
Based on these trends, I too believe that this generation – my generation – will be “alright.” In fact, I believe we will be better than alright. I have great hope for us and know that recessions are known to breed ingenuity and creativity. I know our generation not only has the tools to be very successful but the opportunity to make a positive change in our country. I’m willing to do my part. Are you?