The cheated generation: lack of good jobs for young adults is creating a moral crisis

New employment figures reveal young adults in the U.S. have nearly double (13.7 percent) the unemployment rate of the general … Continued

New employment figures reveal young adults in the U.S. have nearly double (13.7 percent) the unemployment rate of the general population. Combine that with the still chronic underemployment of this generation, and we have a moral as well as economic crisis in the making.

These young adults call themselves the “Lost Generation”; they write about being “crippled by college debt and graduated into a struggling economy…[with] little chance to find gainful employment in their chosen fields.” They “take temporary jobs they are overqualified for.”

They are not lost; they have been cheated out of at least a decade of their lives.

Let’s be very clear. This is a moral crisis as well as an economic crisis because the promise of this “Millennial generation,” once labeled “confident, connected, open to change,” has literally been taken from them. “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15) is one of the most well known biblical precepts. But these Millennials have had their future stolen. They are literally not making a future, putting off marriage and having children, for example, because they cannot afford it; the future of their children, too, is being taken.

Make no mistake where the blame lies for this rolling catastrophe. The promise of this generation has been taken from them by risky banking practices. There is nearly universal consensus that the “Great Recession” was triggered by the high rate of defaults on subprime mortgages when the housing bubble burst. Ironically enough, the overreaching by banks in risky lending is hitting the young adult generation, who didn’t even own homes at the time, the hardest through the overall economic downturn and the continuing failure of the economy to produce good jobs.

The “employed superhero” of the #Occupy movement reveals this.

It gets worse. There is, in fact, a three and even four-generation crisis now, from Millennials, to their choice not to have children, and now even to their parents and grandparents.

Unemployed or underemployed Millennials are moving back with their parents, often unable to get a job that pays enough for them to live independently and also pay their student debt.

These parents are called the “Sandwich generation” and are often stressed economically when their young adult children need financial help, while they are also helping their parents. They are “sandwiched” between their parents and their children, as a new Pew Study reveals.

The increased need of the young adults is the new factor that is increasing the stress on the parents. As the Pew study indicates, “roughly half (48 percent) of adults ages 40 to 59 have provided some financial support to at least one grown child in the past year, with 27 percent providing the primary support,” and that has increased since 2005, most likely due to the “Great Recession.” These “sandwich” Baby Boomers are my generation, and I scarcely have a friend my age with young adult children who is not experiencing this pressure.

Not every young adult has parents who can help, however, and more and more young adults are now homeless, even if they are working.

Add to that the fact that more and more college students are also homeless and hungry as these poignant images attest. I know college chaplains who tell me they are dealing with this crisis on their campuses. Students are going hungry and they are “couch surfing” because they can’t afford housing.

I want the best possible future for my children and now my grandchildren. This isn’t it. And without intense attention to the multiple factors that are robbing future generations of their promise, it will only get worse.

We must face up to this rolling moral and economic crisis and demand the policies that will help produce good jobs for a whole generation.

A generation has been cheated of their future. We must help them get it back.

  • WmarkW

    You’ve hit on the great moral crisis of our time; and totally missed the explanation for it. They lack jobs for a simple reason — immigrants, legal and illegal.

    Who used to perform low-skill labor as an introduction into the world of work? Teens and very young adults. Whose best job prospects have been bid out to H1-B visa recruits for the ludicrously-stated reason that there aren’t Americans to do them? Why are we negotiating an amesty for people who entered the country illegally to take jobs from the 13.7% who don’t have one?

    These Millenials should be protesting in every major government and financial center in America. They aren’t, because they’ve been indoctrinated since birth into the foundational philosophy of political correctness, to believe they have no more right to an American job than a Mexican or Indian does.

  • LaPortaMA

    ONLY OUR INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS create a moral crisis.
    Be sure to read Atlas Shrugged so you can see how this will be used.

  • DRJJJ

    Poor morals and ethics are behind most of our problems! Take a hard look at the spike of all our social ills once we took prayer out of school in 1963-BIG mistake! Secularization of chuch and state has done us no favors-turn on the news! In God we should trust!

    I’m a boomer and must apologize for our selfishness!

  • SODDI

    It’s not like there’s any shortage of things that need to get done. The U.S.’s electrical grid needs modernized. The past week’s events show that private and governmental computer security needs to be vastly improved – yes, even at the WaPo. Thousands of bridges, dams and other critical infrastructures have passed their life cycle and are crumbling before our eyes.

    Water. In a couple weeks the Mississippi will flood again and wipe out towns all along its banks; in a couple months farms not 50 miles from the flood plain will continue to suffer from multi-year droughts. The Ogalalla Aquifer is running dry while in Texas, T. Boone Pickaxe drains it for designer drinking water. Meanwhile, we simply flush billions of gallons of potable water down the toilet every day.

    All these can be solved, not by “throwing money” at them, but by employing Americans with valuable skills to create solutions and rebuild our country. In fact, in the future we face, a ditch digger is more valuable than an investment banker.

  • DRJJJ

    Good point, let’s rebuild our dangerous bridges before we build any new ones!

  • ikey81

    What a load.. schools are not here to teach you your religious morals. That what you, and your church are for.

  • ikey81

    So we should just wall off America and let no one else in?

    As for mentioning illegal immigrants, how many of them are taking good jobs? I do realize that there is a large migrant work force that take low paying jobs in fields, the jobs that would still leave the younger generations underemployeed.

  • Inalexandria

    Part of the moral dilemma is that we wrongly tell kids that they need a college education to get ahead so they get one and then can’t find a white collar job, when there are so many trade jobs that are needed but they aren’t qualified to fill. If we had better trade school education maybe so many young people wouldn’t be unemployed and then we wouldn’t need as many immigrants to fill those jobs.

  • SODDI

    I don’t recall that school prayer employed many Americans.

  • WmarkW

    The ability to immigrate to America should be managed by our government for the good of our nation, economy and citizens.

    Not treated as the sacred and inalienable right of all seven billion humans.

  • DRJJJ

    Schools have been teaching the evolution faith movement with your tax dollars for years now! It’s the false religion that states we’re all just animals, so don’t be afraid when we act like animals! There is no rights/qwrongs (moral realtivity) and do whatever feels good-you’re just pond scum! When we invite hell into our country, don’t be suprised when all hell breaks loose!

  • Extempraneous

    The big awakening is coming, and in some ways it’s already here. For generations Americans (and everyone else in the world) has believed in the idea that technological advances would inevitably lead to higher productivity and freeing workers from having to do menial jobs, so that they could be retrained to move on to more “elevated” forms of employment commanding higher wages. It’s all very intelligent and all very egalitarian.

    It isn’t true. What’s actually happening is that the advancing technology is foreclosing more potential paths for advancement than it is creating. The better and the cheaper and the smarter the computers and the equipment, the more this is going to be true. We’re reaching a point where unemployment is going to increase *regardless* of your education level.

  • Extempraneous

    What’s going to happen for most people is that the government is going to enact minimal safety net policies, if it can, and it’s going to become a curator of a large number of permanently displaced workers who can never be employed again. They’ll sit around, take drugs and screw. That’s going to be what people do increasingly toward the end of this century.

  • Extempraneous

    And the “risky banking practices” were pioneered in part by Penny Pritzker’s father’s bank. She was Obama’s campaign finance chair. Her family’s bank was a leader in subprime lending.

  • SODDI

    Religion only supplies employment for con men and pedophiles.

  • Rongoklunk

    Best thing to do when you’re out of work is pray to God for some help. That’s what He’s there for isn’t it? And as He really enjoys helping folks He’ll appreciate being called on, like He did for the Japanese tsunami a few years ago – the way He held it back was miraculous. And the way He handled hurricane Katrina diverting it away from New Orleans back out to sea. Marvelous. We are so lucky to have such a caring and busy God. You never see Allah helping anybody. In fact Allah has never been seen AT ALL – EVER, which is why I doubt if he even exists. So thank you God for all Your help. You’re quite a Guy.

  • allinthistogether

    The willingness to believe that a hypothesis (the existence of God) is absolute truth causes believers to then begin to believe anything else that comes along – with no need for compelling evidence. There may be a God, there may not be – the evidence is not yet all in. The choice to believe in God does not give moral license to believe whatever else you want. Ignorance is not evidence.

  • allinthistogether

    DRJJJ: i don’t know where you get your information about what atheists and agnostics think and do, but your understanding is way off the truth. The fact that some Christians distort the truth about the non-religious with such ease and pleasure reflects very poorly on religion.

  • allinthistogether

    WmarkW: the only thing that is going to keep the U.S. from going the way of Japan (not enough working age people to support the elderly) is continued immigration. Can we handle it better? Yes, of course. Without immigration our children and grandchildren would be even worse off.

  • ThomasBaum

    allinthistogether

    You or anyone else can believe in the hypothesis (the non-existence of God) just as anyone can believe in God but why would believing in either one of these hypotheses be a causation for what you propose?

    You didn’t just pull this causation out of thin air, did you?

    Where is your “compelling evidence” or proof for this linkage?

    You wrote, “There may be a God, there may not be – the evidence is not yet all in.”

    The “evidence” won’t be in until God supplies the “evidence”.

  • quiensabe

    “Ironically enough, the overreaching by banks in risky lending…” was caused, some believe, by the oversight of Barney Frank of Fanny and Freddie. Does this mean you’ve changed your view on LGBT’s, Susan?

  • edbyronadams

    What does Ms. Thistlethwaite think of the morality of leaving a mountain of debt to succeeding generations or asking the financially stressed young people to carry the weight of paying to insure an older, sicker and already propertied group from loss of that property due to illness?

    There are many moral dilemmas posed by public policy. Some are seen and discussed. Some are not.

  • Occupy60Million4aDollar

    Wow, Susan, take comfort in the fact that only the crazies comment in these sections! I thought this editorial was spot on!

  • WmarkW

    Only crazies?

    I’ve posted two comments about immigration causing unemployment among the American-born young. SBT didn’t mention immigration once in her column, and cheerleads for it frequently in this space.

    With a generation unemployed like described in this column, they have to have first call on available jobs over Mexicans and Indians.

  • JFK Imposter

    Talk about a moral crisis, the way that congress and the people comment on places such as this do NOT teach this generation anything but…put it off and call each other names and worse…you don’t think they are tuned in, but they are and their morale is at a low point because of it.

    Everyone is to blame, not just the elected officials, but I know it feels good to blame someone, especially here online instead of downtown at the capitol in some form of protest.

  • SODDI

    No evidence means no god.

  • itsthedax

    This is very educational. In reading the comments, I’ve learned that unemployment is caused by:

    Immigrants
    Barney Frank
    George Soros
    The Leftist Republicans in Congress
    The lack of christian education in public schools
    Subprime lending
    Advances in technology
    Immorality
    Lack of prayers in public schools
    and the teaching of evolution in public schools.

    After reviewing the comments, I do agree that there is definitely something wrong with our education system. But I also bet that most of you have jobs, so that deficiency probably isn’t related to unemployment.

  • WmarkW

    Would you mind telling me why you don’t think immigration causes unemployment?

    Ok, if most immigrants were elderly parents coming to live with their working-age offspring, they don’t cause unemployment. But what are 16-30 yo Mexicans, and Indians on H1-B visas doing, if it’s not taking a job that could go to an American?

  • itsthedax

    If you’re going to claim that immigration causes unemployment, its up to you to demonstrate that claim. Provide figures to support your claim, instead of hand-waiving generalities.

    You could just as easily claim that immigrants are creating jobs by opening up new businesses, with just as much evidence as you’re presently providing.

  • WmarkW

    I posted it earlier in this thread: 2/5/2013 7:40 AM EST

    Since Obama took office, foreign-born employment is UP 1.72 million, and native-born employment is DOWN 0.62 million.

  • itsthedax

    Yeah, I saw the dreck that you dredged up. Unreferenced and unsubstantiated hand-waving.

    Try actual numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Unemployment is actually dropping in the states with the highest immigrant populations.

  • itsthedax

    I’ve taken a look at some of your other postings in other threads, and some of the material on that Vdare site that you like so much.

    I’m not going to have anything further to do with you.

  • longjohns

    “policies that wil help produce good jobs for a generation”. Great. I’m all for that. Maybe you can start off by praying because G_d is about the only one who knows what those policies are. Interestingly Jesus said nothing about producing jobs. He said a lot about not worrying about tomorrow. He said a lot about loving your enemy (modern day equivalent would be Mr. bin Laden or for some people Mr. Obama). He didn’t try to put into any policy that would help produce jobs either.

    A more realistic proposal would be to provide healthcare, unemployment benefits, and social security. You know–help the poor–what Jesus did say.

  • WmarkW

    Anyone else feel like addressing:

    Why are we employing foreigners with 8.5% unemployment among natives?

  • ThomasBaum

    Was the theory of relativity “wrong” until the evidence came in?

    The only thing that no evidence means is that there is no evidence.

    I believe that no one will ever be able to come up with “scientific evidence” that God Is, however, one day all will know that God Is.

  • persiflage

    ‘Why are we employing foreigners with 8.5% unemployment among natives?’

    If we’re speaking of educated ‘foreigners’ in the corporate and healthcare sector, it’s because they have the necessary credentials for the job, whereas native-born applicants do not measure up.

    If we’re talking about uneducated immigrant labor, it’s because they work circles around their native-born competitors for less money.

    Hispanic labor has captured large segments of the contract specialty work in the building industry – they are no longer simply pickers or work mules for native-born landscape entrepreneurs and business owners. LIke the Japanese after WWII, they learned to do it better and cheaper.

    Before southern states started getting hard on illegal hiring, all kinds of white Christian republicans hired nothing but our brown brothers from south of the border to do their dirty work.

    Personally, I miss those guys – they did a hell of a job.

  • persiflage

    ‘I hope that scenario will not be necessary due to your recognition of your abject state, and and ensuing repentance.’

    ScottinVA has got this thing about judgement day, supernatural entities, and sneaking past a well-deserved butt-whipping for excessive arrogance.

    Personally, I think a good old-fashioned angelic thrashing is in his future……….

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