Monday, May 17, 2010

This Is No Joke. Happy Graduation, Class of 2010.

A couple days ago, I read an extremely relevant article The Wall Street Journal (a hard copy no less). As its title suggests, "A Lament For The Class of 2010" illustrates the job market for young, college-educated graduates. It's bleak.

"They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys..."

That's the truth. On average, I apply for 3 jobs a week. Now, thanks to the restaurant that hired me, I even have NYC service experience and I can't get a job serving tables. I've worked at major arts organizations, but I can't get a job answering phones at hair salons. Sure I've got an Ivy League degree, but I rarely even get interviewed for the random admin jobs I apply for. 17% of people between the ages of 20-24 don't have a job. And (almost) all of them want one.

What I found interesting about this article, though, is its unafraid disdain of the Boomer generation (who I imagine make a significant portion of WSJ's readership). I love my parents, but other than their parents (the self-proclaimed "greatest generation"), there is no generation so uniformly condescending towards the plight of young people today than the Boomers who spawned them.

Back when we were employed, Boomers claimed Gen Y-ers make bad workers, entitled and demanding and incapable of understanding why they are at the bottom of the ladder. Maybe its because we were told by said Boomers that we were the most amazing people of all time, that we really could do anything, and that our grades, SAT scores, college acceptances proved it. After having worked really hard to meet the high expectations for us, of course we expected to be rewarded for it. We always had been.

Growing up, we middle-class Gen Y-ers were over-committed hyper-scheduled achievers. Aside from the fact that our battles with underemployment have done a number on our understanding of our capabilities and self-respect, we have never had so much free time in our entire lives. In part because of the Boomer parenting philosophy of "No Summer Left Behind," our brains don't compute with a life that includes day after day with nothing on our schedules. Our post-graduation joblessness isn't a choice. We're no Ben Braddock. You tell us "Plastics" and we'll say, "Insurance!"

"...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."

While I don't think pensions or social security are an inherent problem, I do believe they will be if Gen Y doesn't start earning some serious money. Boomers are poised to retire, some having been forced into retiring early, and there's a lot more of Gen Y than Gen X to shoulder the burden.

Hey Boomers : Try finding me a job, and see how you fare. When you succeed, please email me at

The cartoon above is by Scott Santis, former editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News.


  1. This is really really really really upsetting and sad. As a "Boomer" I am so sorry

  2. You're a good Boomer though, so you're off the hook.

    It is upsetting...when I read the article I almost cried. I was moved.

  3. And Boomers aren't all bad. They listened to great music when they were my age.

    A reader emailed me today re: the greatest generation. He suggested that mayhaps the greatest generation was the generation of 1776 or 1861. That made me smile.

  4. I completely relate to this. Your section about having free time and not really knowing what to do with it felt like you were reading my mind. I feel many good conversations about this could be had if we were in closer proximity. Good luck, Friend.

  5. The feeling is mutual Miss V.

    As always, thanks for reading!!

  6. Check out this classically boomer article about parenting a new college grad. Obviously your kid is crying not because the days of beer pong are over but because living at home as an adult blows and he probably won't get a job that pays enough to not live at home for a long long time.

  7. Barack Hussein ObamaMay 21, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Dear UnderEmployedInNYC,

    This insightful website should help you find something productive and fulfilling to do with your new-found leisure time:

    I know I found it useful when I was young and underemployed!

    Best Regards,

    Barack Hussein Obama

  8. Mr. President,

    If it's good enough for you its certainly good enough for me. Just when my HOPEtm was flagging, you have showed me the way.