Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Difference

You want to understand the difference between this global recession and nearly every other?

About one-fourth of Egyptian workers under 25 are unemployed, a statistic that is often cited as a reason for the revolution there. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January an official unemployment rate of 21 percent for workers ages 16 to 24.

My generation was taught that all we needed to succeed was an education and hard work. Tell that to my friend from high school who studied Chinese and international relations at a top-tier college. He had the misfortune to graduate in the class of 2009, and could find paid work only as a lifeguard and a personal trainer.  Unpaid internships at research institutes led to nothing.  After more than a year he moved back in with his parents.

Millions of college graduates in rich nations could tell similar stories. In Italy, Portugal and Spain, about one-fourth of college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed. In the United States, the official unemployment rate for this group is 11.2 percent, but for college graduates 25 and over it is only 4.5 percent.

The true unemployment rate for young graduates is most likely even higher because it fails to account for those who went to graduate school in an attempt to ride out the economic storm or fled the country to teach English overseas. It would be higher still if it accounted for all of those young graduates who have given up looking for full-time work, and are working part time for lack of any alternative.

Many of you, my loyal readers, know this already. Work is hard to come by. Money is even harder.

Companies are not hiring in droves, despite an economy that's turned around neatly in the past 18 months, and when they do hire, there's a buyers' market for skillsets out there. Who wants to take a chance on an entry-level naif when you can hire a desperate family man or woman for essentially the same salary who has experience at that position?

In the past, of course, the opposite was true: companies shed experience because they knew they could get cheaper and "teach 'em right" in the bargain when the time came to hire. This time, the recession hit home, literally. As housing values and prices plummeted and people worked harder to meet their mortgage payments, one layoff was enough to make them scramble and scramble hard to find work.

Which, of course, raises the question for Speaker Boener, "Where are the fucking jobs, man?" You can actually hold a legitimate floor debate about the "controversy" over In God We Trust on our currency, you can entertain not less than 100 anti-abortion bill submissions in three months, but you haven't passed one fucking bill designed to create one fucking job except to increase the military or bureaucracy.

Indeed, your recent "budget" legislation will cut 700,000 jobs, according to Moody's.

This is our future we're talking about here, Boener. Man up, put on your long pants, put away the tissues and start behaving like this matters.