The Class of 2010 borrowed lots of money to attend expensive universities and graduate with skills the labor market doesn’t want, writes Joe Queenan in the Wall Street Journal.
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Millennials will graduate from institutions of higher learning. They will celebrate for several days, perhaps several weeks. Then they will enter a labor force that neither wants nor needs them. They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.
It will take five years to get back to the pre-recession level of jobs, economist say. This generation may never catch up with their parents’ generation.
There are three formidable obstacles confronting college graduates today. One, the economy, though improving at a glacial pace, is still a wreck. There are no jobs, and the jobs that do exist aren’t the kinds anyone in his right mind would have spent $100,000 to $200,000 to land. Two, nothing in most middle-class kids’ lives has prepared them emotionally for the world they are about to enter. Three, the legacy costs that society has imposed on young people will be a millstone around their necks for decades. Who’s going to pay for the health care bill? Gen Y. Who’s going to pay off the federal deficit? Gen Y. Who’s going to fund all those cops’ and teachers’ and firemen’s pensions? Gen Y. Who’s going to support Baby Boomers as they suck the Social Security System dry while wheezing around Tuscany? Gen Y.
Baby boomers with college degrees could move up the job ladder quickly, Queenan writes.
Today, even the idiots have college degrees. And the idiots have seniority.
Queenan’s son was graduated from college in 2009. After working as a bouncer, furniture mover and focus group participant, he’s planning to start law school in the fall.