But can we just take a minute for a reality check? It’s not really bad for people who are young. It’s a part of the world you don’t hear much about in mainstream media. Think about it. Most media is in NYC, and you don’t make a lot of money as a writer, so most people who are writing in the tri-State area are married to bankers. Yes, this is a huge generalization, but it is a stereotype because it’s true.
Two neighborhoods—Montclair, NJ, and Park Slope, NY—are the bastions of media elite married to banker elite. And it’s a combustible moment there, demonstrated by how we get a lot of reporting about how sad it is for the bankers right now. Who are mostly middle aged.
And we get a lot of reporting about how sad it is for older people in the workforce because those are the people getting laid off. The baby boomers love to report about how much discrimination there is against them. And they have huge pulpits to report that from.
Of course, don’t get me started. The baby boomers had a great run spending tons of money they didn’t have and then bitching that the economic rug is pulled out from under them. But there is no mention that Gen X never even had a good run. How about reporting that?
But okay. This is not the point of my post. After all, if you write a Thanksgiving post, it must be upbeat and not grouchy. But also, I will not write a purely upbeat post because then I’d be in the league of all the people who are going to blog about how much they love their family and how great their family is—blah blah blah. And I should remind you you that it was none other than Tolstoy who said that all happy families are the same. And that is why you should never write about them.
But the adage that happiness is boring is true for everything. For example, it is true in the list of sex scenes that stink. (Thank you, Ben Cascnocha, for knowing I would love that link.) You need to have tension in a good sex scene, like maybe the guy can’t get an erection and wants to slit his wrists. Or something less tense but still a little tense. Surely you can imagine.
Okay. So I can’t be all good cheer or I would bore you. But I am doing my Thanksgiving post, so here: the niceness, the let’s-all-feel-good thing, is that young people are doing fine in this economy and people should start reporting it.
The not-feeling-so-great thing is that, in the case of everyone but the young, the economy is only good for star performers. But really (and here is the part of the post you should skip if you want Thanksgiving bliss) I have been ranting and screaming for years that the best way to have a good life is to be a star performer at work because that gives you the most flexibility to get what you want out of life. Don’t be a star performer for money. Be a star performer so that in an economy like this, you don’t have to worry about a paycheck.
But—I know someone will ask—here is the evidence that things are fine for young people:
1. Jobs for low-level candidates are increasing. This data comes from a report from Beyond.com issued on November 14: In October 2008, jobs for candidates with 0-3 years of experience increased by 3.68% when compared to jobs posted in September 2008. This was the only category of jobs by experience level that did not decrease over the previous month.
2. There are plenty of entry-level jobs to be had. There is a backlog of entry-level jobs that have been going unfilled for years. Alan Schweyer of the Human Capital Institute said just three weeks ago, sitting next to me on a panel, that the unemployment rate for college grads has been at 0% for the past seven years. (ed. – Alan Schweyer has a great comment toward the bottom of the comments clarifying this statistic.) In the middle of 2008, Robert Half, a recruiting agency for accounting and finance, said that accounting firms have been so chronically understaffed that we’d have to have a five-year recession for them to catch up.
3. College grads are doing fine in today’s market. On November 19, JobFox announced that, “Skilled professionals remain in demand despite the economic downturn. While the unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent in October, the unemployment rate for professionals with college degrees remains manageable at 3.1 percent.”
So I know what you’re saying. If things are so great for young people, then why is Obama creating 2.5 million jobs from the Chicago Hilton? The answer is that unemployment is insanely high for older people: Yesterday, Fox News reported that the unemployment rate for people over 50 is nearing 50%.
I’m not saying things are great in the U.S. (Though I do love Obama.) What I’m saying is that young people shouldn’t be thrown by the bad news that old people are pushing. Things are not that bad if you’re beginning your career. Think big, ask a lot of the world, demand respect and fun and a high learning curve. You will annoy people, for sure, but young people annoy older people in a good economy too.