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Generation Jobless: Victims or Spoiled Losers?

The generation formerly known as Generation Y or the Millennials is now known as Generation Jobless. They are often presented as victims of a society going down the drain, betrayed by false promises about higher education guaranteeing them a job. Yet what’s the real story? Are these kids really victims, or are they just a bunch of spoiled losers who expect to get the world on silver platter without working for it?

Perspective Matters

It depends who you ask whether today’s unemployed are weaklings or winners waiting for their shot. The case for victimhood is popular with many media outlets, but sympathy for the unemployed doesn’t extend to the entrepreneurial classes. As Tony Robbins puts it, the difference between what you have and what you want is the story you spin about why you can’t make it.

According to the mainstream media, the story is about victims of the economic collapse. The Wall Street Journal dedicated a week’s worth of coverage to the 5.9 million 25-to-34-year olds who now live with their parents, sympathetically commiserating with the 16.7 percent of 16-to-24-year olds who are unemployed, and highlighting the tragedy of the 59 percent of parents who’ve provided financial support to their 18-to-39-year-old children at the expense of their own retirement accounts and household budgets. At every turn was pity and tut-tutting over the frustrated potential of the young unemployed.

On the other hand, you have America’s entrepreneurs and bootstrappers, who think the story is about the laziness and pickiness of the modern generation. No one gave them a hand out when they were getting started in the school of hard knocks. Instead of moving back in with mom and dad when they couldn’t find a job, they founded their own businesses or went to work in jobs outside their majors, anything to pay the bills. They view “Generation Jobless” as a euphemism for couch potatoes who’d rather spend their lives playing video games while their parents coddle them through the realities of life than get up, get out there, and master the world’s harsh realities.

Global Comparisons

Along with a divided domestic perspective, there is also the matter of the global impact of the current economy. America’s economic woes pale in comparison to unemployment rates in the European Union. Competition for domestic jobs is weak in comparison to competition in other countries such as China, where whole ghettos (known as Ant Cities) have sprung up full of unemployed university graduates.

In the U.S., we fret over a 9 percent official unemployment rate.  In Greece, the unemployment rate is estimated to be 18.4 percent officially, and it has risen approximately two percent each month in 2011. We still have hope, but the Greeks have resigned themselves to riots and additional misery.

Graduates in Generation Jobless complain about competition for open jobs, but our national competition is nothing compared to what happens in Europe, India, or China.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported an average of 21.1 applicants per open position in the first half of 2011 in America. In Europe, there were 70 applicants for each open position, while in India, call center vacancies sometimes receive more than 1,000 applications for each available job.  Clearly, Americans don’t realize their comparative advantages.

Stop Whining, Start Working

While the situation in the U.S. is hardly ideal, that doesn’t mean the only option is giving up.  Holding out for a “perfect” job is not to anyone’s advantage either, as the longer one remains outside the job market the harder it is to get back into regular work. Instead, career counselors and common sense dictate that it is better to build work experience of any kind than to live on unemployment or sponge off generous family members.

This can be a hard message for young job seekers who thought a college degree would open any door they wanted.  However, since the economy isn’t going to magically get better overnight, Generation Jobless needs to make its own future. Whether taking less-than-perfect work or starting a new company, they have to make do with what they have. Anything less opens the doors to accusations of laziness and being spoiled or entitled. Opportunities may be disguised as hard or unpleasant work, but there’s no reason for Generation Jobless to be permanently unemployed.

©2011 Off the Grid News

© Copyright Off The Grid News


  1. No obvious bias here, despite the “articles” title. Disappointing, from a site such as this.

  2. I agree…my husband lost his job and we had to start over…..took most of our savings the first year looking for work….no unemployment like they have now….this was about 4 years ago…..couldn’t get hired, even flew across country for a job interview with no results……we started our own business and are making it now…its been difficult, yes, and rewarding at the same time….wish we’d done it sooner…we both look at these OWS people with some disdain…both our sons are in their 20s and working also…they had to look hard but both found work…there are jobs..maybe not high paying but there is work….you have to have grit…

  3. A short article like this one didn’t get into the vast social and economic differences between today’s 20 year olds and generations of the past. Baby Boomers for instance, enjoyed a lifestyle in which jobs were plentiful and costs of living were low. Why was this so? One reason was that people didn’t live as long and were not expected to work into their 70s like they do today. Today’s younger generation is having to compete with people who have vastly more experience for the same jobs. Have you been to a fast food place lately? Most of the positions are held by people over 50! With manager positions almost always going to people in their 50s and 60s. These used to be entry level jobs and now they are seen as permanent jobs by most people. How are 20 somthings supposed to compete?
    I am a gen Xer myself and just turning 40 I can tell you things have been hard for even my generation for the past 10 years or so.

  4. I understand that things are tough, and I am sypathetic to a certain degree. However as a whole, this generation IS LAZY, unmotivated, and prepared with many excused on why they cannot. The article used the word ‘picky’ and how true this is. If things are so bad, they can at the very least be more productive within the house and be more willing to help out……and for godsakes…put the damn video games down and find something useful to do. Perhaps a generation sitting in front of videogames instead of learning real work ethic is at the very core of the laziness.

    • “and for godsakes…put the damn video games down and find something useful to do.” This line made me laugh out loud. I’m going to read your post to my mom tonight. Great job. I loved it. :)

    • Lazy huh? We are the generation thats been fighting wars for a decade without needing a draft to do it like you baby boomers needed for nam
      Semper fi

  5. When times are tough, tough people will find a way to get by, and without living off mommy and daddy. I agree that times are tougher than they have been in a long time, however there are ways to make it. I grew up in the 80’s and although it was not quite as bad as it is now, the economy certainly wasn’t good. I put myself through college not by whining and wanting the government to pay for my classes but by working three jobs (and carrying a 4.0 by the way). And when I didn’t get a job in my field because of affirmative action, I went in another direction. The point is, I didn’t protest for anybody to give me a job, I went out and got one, it wasn’t my dream job and it certainly didn’t pay well, but I lived within my means. Luckily my two boys were paying attention when I was bringing them up, teaching them how to be men and how to take care of themselves and their families. Their lot in life is worlds apart from that of their peers right now. My 25 y/o enlisted in the Army when he was 18, he is now married, a college graduate and after completing Officer Candidate School, is a Captain in charge of an Infantry Company. My 18 y/o just finished the Fire Academy and will be starting next week as a FireFighter/EMT. He finished his Associates degree in less than a year at a community college and will be switching to our state university in January. He did all this without any help from us because he has worked, saved and lived within his means, just like I taught him. My point of all this is that even though the economy isn’t great, if you work hard, only spend what you make and take whatever paying job you can get, you can make it. Instead of living off their parents, whining and protesting, these OWS people ought to be taking any job they can, even if its not fun and even if it is below them, at least they will be paying their own way through life, and maybe learning some valuable lessons along the way.

    • While I agree that any place with a name on the door does business and, that businesses hire and, if you really want a job you can find one, that is not what we have today. Over 46% of our population is now living below the ‘official’ poverty level, which is way out of whack with reality. There are over 400,000 new claims for unemployment every week. Since 2001 America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities every day. Since Obama took office that number has grown to 23 manufacturing facilities closing their doors, every day. Between 1994 and 2007 the average salary of BS degree has increased 15% yet the cost of the education to earn that degree has increased 63%. Try paying that debt load down with a smile and ‘would you like fries with that order?’

  6. Well said Tripwire….right on!

  7. I did a search for “young loosers” or some such thing. After doing some reading, I realized that it may be more what our society has become then the kids themselves. I was Canadian born 1960. I too was lazy and the worlds worst empoyee. The difference was, that had I applied myself, the society I lived in had opportunities galore. Not so anymore. Sure, there are success stories just as there are lottery winners, but is this to say one should focus on buying tickets? I have to think of a movie from some time ago, where the main actor comes back to some point in the future. They plan on going out for a meal to Taco Bell, and someone comments that “Every” restaurant is a Taco Bell. This seems to be what I am seeing, and in this, the opportunites are extremely limited. Minimum wage (easily replaceable) human robots that in the retail sector anyway, sell off shore products almost exclusively. Corporations (from what I have seen) don’t want very good, long term employees, because they eventually cost too much, and cause dissent amoung lower paid employees. They only want just good enough!

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