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article imageRecession gives Generation Y a rude awakening

By Sitafa Harden     Jan 17, 2009 in Business
With the unemployment rate in the United States constantly climbing, new numbers from the Department of Labor indicate that employees under 30 are being hit the hardest.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 29 has increased to more than 11 percent in December. A year ago it was under 9 percent.
Both numbers are in stark contrast to the unemployment rate for workers in their 30's and above which remains under 7 percent and generally declines as workers get older.
These bleak statistics paint a startling picture for Generation Y whose members, generally born between 1980 and 2001, have been characterized as "trophy kids" by social researchers, a label intended to reflect the trend in competitive sports where no one loses and everyone gets a trophy just for participating.
Edward Stuart, economics professor at Northeastern Illinois University, told MSNBC,
"Given that this is a macro-economic recession the job losses have been widespread, across almost all industry groups, making it even harder on younger workers, most of which have never experienced a severe economic downturn."
"New entrants into the labor force tend to be younger people, and companies don’t want to hire them now,” he added.
But some seasoned professionals believe that an unwillingness to pay their dues is the main issue holding many Gen Yers back in the workforce.
In the latest issue of The Economist the head of recruitment for a Florida law firm noted how she had become accustomed to interviewing young candidates who "expected the firm to promote itself to them rather than the other way around".
However, others feel that it is not an inherent sense of entitlement, but simply the fact that many Gen Yers never learned much about struggle or sacrifice, that makes them more impetuous and less prepared for the work world.
A survey of college graduates from 2000 to 2006 found that 58 percent had moved back home after graduation and that 73 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds continued to receive financial assistance and help with errands from their parents.
Thus, career consultants point out that coddling from parents may contribute to the impatience and unrealistic expectations many young people feel on the work front.
Less than two years ago The Wall Street Journal ran a story about new graduates and their impatience when it comes to getting promotions at work. The story stated,
"20somethings are accustomed to meeting short-term goals in schools with quarter and semester systems. They expect to see results on the job just as quickly and when they don't, impatience sets in."
During that same time Fortune Magazine published a virtual how-to guide on attracting 20something workers for Fortune 500 companies struggling just to get noticed by confident and cocky group. The article said of Gen Yers,
They're high-maintenance, often reliant on their parents and can easily quit a job they don't like."
But now, with the economy in a deep recession and the future uncertain for all age groups, reality dictates that Generation Y will have to work their way up the ladder just like the generations before them.
More about Recession, Generation, Unemployment, Jobs, Work
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