Notebook > Lifestyle

School of hard knocks

"School of hard knocks" Continued...

Issue: "American bounty," Nov. 30, 2013

Parents have made life easier, and the workforce reflects it. According to the Department of Labor, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds looking for work peaked at 77.5 percent in 1989. It’s now 60.5 percent. One in seven Americans under 25 in 2011 was neither employed nor in school, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. That’s higher than many European countries with far worse economies. Some American young adults simply don’t want or need to work. 

A loan officer at NC State told me of a student who didn’t pay her tuition and showed up with her Coach bag and $100 jeans to protest not being allowed to take classes. Several long-term studies show high schoolers since the 1970s are more “materialistic,” even “narcissistic,” with “unrealistically high expectations.” They care about stuff, but don’t know how to get it.

Joblessness that continues after college can affect a career for decades, according to studies cited by The Economist. In Japan, among young adults who came of age during its 1990s real-estate crash, almost one-third don’t hold full-time jobs today: The Atlantic reported 20 percent still living with their parents.

One in four people with a high-school diploma or less in the United States is unemployed. And while recent college grads struggle little more than the national average, student loans trail only mortgages in consumer debt; default rates are at record highs and rising. The future of the U.S. economy will depend on how Millennials handle adversity and hard work. 

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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