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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

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