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Martha St Jean

Martha St Jean

Posted April 2, 2009 | 12:57 PM (EST)

Why Gen-Y is Kinda Screwed


"We're kinda screwed." Ivy League Grad on state of the economy

"Yeah, in case you didn't realize it, yet, we're kinda screwed," commented a friend on her facebook page a couple of months ago in response to the article, "Under 30? Looking for a job? You're not alone," written by MSNBC.com contributor Eve Tahmincioglu. Being smart, young and ivy league educated does not keep you from being one of the twelve million four hundred sixty-seven thousand of Americans out of a job, an increase of 851,000 in just one month. Joblessness does not discriminate, but the chances are if you are Black or Hispanic you have it worse.

It's been six months and 25 days since I have had a job, by that I mean something that pays regularly and comes with certain perks like health insurance. I didn't see this coming, but then again many of us did not, except maybe for the guys at AIG, Citigroup, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I obtained my masters from an Ivy and attended New York University for undergrad. I held a prestigious internship at a prominent cable network after getting my masters, and have worked at building my resume. Like many, I figured it would not take long to find a new job at the end of my internship; it's obvious that my thinking was flawed.

Growing up, Generation Y'ers (born between 1977 and 1998) were promised the world. Dynasty, the prime time soap that ran through most of the 80's, promised that we too could have the "American dream." Oliver Stone's Wall Street captured the idea if you worked hard you could reach the top, but it also ended with the warning that cheaters never truly prosper. Life in the 1980s was about big business and even bigger hair. Growing up with that legacy today leaves many frustrated as they grasp at straws for whatever semblance of the dream that is left. Many are asking, "Where's our life, liberty and ability to pursue happiness?" We were supposed to be better off than our parents, now there is a very real chance that we will not even be able to keep up with them. Those who do have jobs are dealing with stagnant incomes while managing the high cost of living.

After going to school and obtaining the best degrees money can buy, you expect a certain standard of living. Instead we wonder, "Where's the promise?" This is not a case of the usual suspects; Wall Streeters are as worried as those on Main Street, college grads are in the same boat as those with GED's. In early March, Goldman Sachs economists predicted that unemployment rates would rise in the near future, saying, "We have boosted our expected path of the unemployment rate, to 9.5 % by year-end 2009 and 10% by year-end 2010; both figures are .5 point above the previous forecast."

In February, when former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan said, that this would be the "longest and deepest" recession since the 1930s, I like many others are wondering what else will hit the economy. The gross domestic product had already fallen 3.8% in the last quarter of 2008 (read more here.) The foreclosure rate is rising and the auto industry is failing. "We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America's success," said President Obama on March 30th. In anger, I want to say, "Let it vanish," but that's just not a smart idea. We need to do whatever it takes to get this economy back on track, even if that includes a bailout that many do not even begin to understand. (For more info on the credit crisis bailout click here.)

Many young people are left wondering, "Where's my bailout package?" This year's college graduates need more than a wish and a prayer to land a job. Time magazine reported that 44% of companies surveyed by the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE), said they will not hire many new graduates and 22% said they will not be hiring anyone at all this spring. So maybe my friend has it right, "We're kinda screwed."