generation limbo: 20-somethings today, debt, unemployment, the questionable value of a college education

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What worries parents, teachers and employers is that the latest crop of adults wants to postpone growing up. At a time when they should be graduating, entering the work force and starting families of their own, the twentysomething crowd is balking at those rites of passage. A prime reason is their recognition that the American Dream is much tougher to achieve after years of housing-price inflation and stagnant wages. Householders under the age of 25 were the only group during the 1980s to suffer a drop in income, a decline of 10%. One result: fully 75% of young males 18 to 24 years old are still living at home, the largest proportion since the Great Depression.

In a TIME/CNN poll of 18- to 29-year-olds, 65% of those surveyed agreed it will be harder for their group to live as comfortably as previous generations. While the majority of today's young adults think they have a strong chance of finding a well-paying and interesting job, 69% believe they will have more difficulty buying a house, and 52% say they will have less leisure time than their predecessors. Asked to describe their generation, 53% said the group is worried about the future.

I can feel it in my spiritual hat (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 2 September 2011 17:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

69% believe they will have more difficulty buying a house, and 52% say they will have less leisure time than their predecessors.

that much turned out to be true!

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

Because they are fewer in number, today's young adults have the power to wreak havoc in the workplace. Companies are discovering that to win the best talent, they must cater to a young work force that is considered overly sensitive at best and lazy at worst. During the next several years, employers will have to double their recruiting efforts. According to American Demographics, the pool of entry-level workers 16 to 24 will shrink about 500,000 a year through 1995, to 21 million. These youngsters are starting to use their bargaining power to get more of what they feel is coming to them. They want flexibility, access to decision making and a return to the sacredness of work-free weekends. "I want a work environment concerned about my personal growth," says Jennifer Peters, 22, one of the youngest candidates ever to be admitted to the State Bar of California. "I don't want to go to work and feel I'll be burned out two or three years down the road."

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

seems a little different to me!

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

Euler what is your field?

Do not go gentle into that good frogbs (silby), Friday, 2 September 2011 17:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah sure there are differences - I haven't read the article in 20 years fwiw

I can feel it in my spiritual hat (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 2 September 2011 17:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

gen x: lazy
millennials: overeducated, prob a little lazy, mostly just fucked

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

that article feels more like "aimless 20 somethings not sure of what they want to do", today's version of "aimless 20 somethings WANT to do something but finding all doors shut"

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah as far as I can tell In This Economy™ what used to be entry-level jobs all advertise as requiring 3 years experience. I somehow have gotten a few interviews anyway but every time one peters out I just get less interested in applying for more programming jobs and more interested in killing time until grad school.

Do not go gentle into that good frogbs (silby), Friday, 2 September 2011 17:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm a phil-ah-soh-pher

which btw shouldn't be conflated with "the liberal arts" b/c our students aren't usually the dreamy-wanna-write-a-story types, rather they're the mass debater types & go on to do analytic work & typically get pretty well paid (unless they go to grad school obv)

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

you mean @ your school or philosophy majors in general

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

Not really involved in the discussion but here's a link that might be of interest - http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/08/31/historical-trends-in-college-tuition/

The linked post about the retained value of a college degree is also worth a look.

pullapartsquirrel (Jenny), Friday, 2 September 2011 17:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

both xp unless we're talking continental philosophers w/ all that crit theory bullshit & that's just dreamy-wanna-write-a-story stuff that isn't gonna get you anywhere

obv I am a pawn of the status quo

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

I dunno I think their prospects aren't much different from english majors or whatever, they just have a higher tendency to go to law school

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 17:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

if I owned 'generic business' I would totally hire a bunch of philosophy majors tho, seems like an undervalued asset (as long as I didn't have to talk to them)

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

what if 'generic business' was a 'medicinal marijuana shop'

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

fwiw philosophy majors rank in the top three nationally on the LSAT, GMAT and GRE pretty much yearly; our only competition is physics & math iirc

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp lol

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Got turned down for a job I had two interviews for today. FUCK THIS SHIT.

gay socialists smoking mushrooms with their illegal gardeners (a hoy hoy), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

xps to Euler: see I don't like the idea of denigrating "the liberal arts" as a thing, I legitimately believe that the liberal arts (including liberal study of the sciences) are the foundation of a democratic society; this is why high school is at least in part a weird mini liberal arts education. College as a job-training-and-credentialing exercise is just going to become a worse and worse value proposition (though it honestly isn't now, as college grads are still outperforming non-college-grads in the job market, modulo debt I guess), especially because the academy moves so slowly that by the time it has figured out how to prepare students for the economy of 2011 it'll be 2038.

a hoy hoy: YEAH NO KIDDIN

Do not go gentle into that good frogbs (silby), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

this is why high school is at least in part a weird mini liberal arts education it's becoming less of this all the time

remy bean, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah I would like to see more discussion of the value of a liberal arts education itt. think a lot of ppl (though not all) who post to ILX prob have a degree in the liberal arts and went to liberal arts colleges?

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

did anybody actually have 'shop class' in high school?

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

my hs had it, I didn't take it

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^^we did and I managed to studiously avoid all of them

I can feel it in my spiritual hat (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

we also had an auto-repair type class, I think

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

the stuff I learned in my hs journalism class - particularly how to write, use a computer, and lay things out - came in much handier professionally than anything I learned in college, really. but liberal arts degrees/colleges are not really about learning a specific subject matter imho, they're about training your mind to think critically and work in different contexts.

I would definitely be making more money in the same industry I'm in now if I'd gotten an engineering degree, but I always hated math.

I can feel it in my spiritual hat (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

school is awful - full of false promises and useless work
memorization and paper achievements
any kind of real sense of desires to learn or create are put to the side

Birth Control is Sinful in the ILE Marriages (Latham Green), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah 'critical thinking' is the rote response to people who question the value of a liberal arts education

I'm still trying to think through the true value of the ability to 'think critically' in the job market

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

dayo it was called the vocational wing in my hs

also folks, this is my line of work and i have a lot of relevant things to say, but i would really rather not discuss it publicly for a variety of reasons

xp - critical thinking is REALLY IMPORTANT esp if you don't have very good critical thinking skills

i drive a wood paneled station dragon (La Lechera), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

did anybody actually have 'shop class' in high school?

Was v sad when I had to give up woodshop b/c there was no room for it in the college-prep curriculum. It was down to shop or band, and marching band won.

Just think, I could have grown up to be a stoner!

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

I tend to take Dewey's line about the value of a liberal-arts-education in creating & nourishing a populace able to handle democracy

+ DFW's take in his Kenyon graduation address

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

oh I totally agree that critical thinking is implicitly and in and of itself a valuable skill, LL - but that's not how all employers see it

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

ps - i had shop class in middle school

it's an important skill to have as a human being, not as an employee

i drive a wood paneled station dragon (La Lechera), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

I think that the american liberal arts education actually contributes substantial economic value to this country - overall we had a much more adaptable job market in the late 20th century than most of the world. more engineers would be good too, but an economy can't be 50% engineers (and really would anyone want to live in a dystopia like that?) most contemporary jobs don't require specific training and in better economic times can be learned on-the-job.

said it in the other thread but the bigger problems are:
a. jobs! (I know underemployed engineers from good schools!)
b. cost

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

i do not work at a liberal arts school btw

i drive a wood paneled station dragon (La Lechera), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

liberal arts school can't really be blamed for 0 net job growth this month

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

last month, rather

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

schools

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

gonna put that one on the Ivies, as usual

wanna get some class resentment going on this thread also

Euler, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

ime the critical thinking tends to be "i wish i hadn't done a useless humanities degree"

Once Were Moderators (DG), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

The public university at which I work has increased tuition and enrollment geometrically in the last two years to compensate for evaporating state funding, with no commensurate strengthening of infrastructure.

The quality of students haven't changed much except I'm seeing more examples of mediocrities: girls getting psych degrees as a time killer before marriage because their parents press on them the importance of a college education, guys getting business degrees because, well, they want to start their own franchises, and journalism majors who don't realize how useless that degree is and always was.

Anakin Ska Walker (AKA Skarth Vader) (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

true everywhere

Once Were Moderators (DG), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

an economy can't be 50% engineers (and really would anyone want to live in a dystopia like that?)

Would it be like this?

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

working nights did not come in handy today. someone called me about an hour into my sleep (10? 11am?) and I gave off the just the most generic dozed pitch, can't even remember what company they were calling from.

gay socialists smoking mushrooms with their illegal gardeners (a hoy hoy), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

lol @ 50% engineer economy; welcome to China :(

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

gonna put that one on the Ivies, as usual

wanna get some class resentment going on this thread also

― Euler, Friday, September 2, 2011 1:22 PM

ultimately we're being fucked by people in dc and wall street, lots of them went to ivies, all of them are rich, it's not completely hors-sujet

iatee, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

all we needs are farmers and abstract artists

Birth Control is Sinful in the ILE Marriages (Latham Green), Friday, 2 September 2011 18:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

problem with america is not enough grant woods

remy bean, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

"school is awful - full of false promises and useless work
memorization and paper achievements
any kind of real sense of desires to learn or create are put to the side"

i really view this as a positive when applied to the evil ambitions of... a lot of people frankly. what other civilizing institutions do we have other than compulsory education? I agree with Thiel in the sense that a lot of motivated people would be personally, selfishly better off not pursuing advanced degrees and doing startups straight from high school, but I disagree that it's a net positive for society.

Philip Nunez, Friday, 2 September 2011 18:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

ow much of that is a byproduct of being the most powerful nation in the world, and what happens if/when we stop being the most powerful nation in the world?

xposts is federal debt necessarily correlated with the power of a nation? this is a map showing central government debt as a percentage of GDP:

1992 ball boy (Karl Malone), Sunday, 2 August 2015 19:25 (2 days ago) Permalink

So...kinda? Easier to go in debt bc you/debt owners both confident that you'll generate economic growth to pay it off

not a garbageman, i am garbage, man (m bison), Sunday, 2 August 2015 19:43 (2 days ago) Permalink

oh, actually those maps might be misleading, sorry. if a country is white on the map, it doesn't mean that they have extremely low central government debt, it means there aren't data for the country at all:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/GC.DOD.TOTL.GD.ZS/countries/1W?display=default

1992 ball boy (Karl Malone), Sunday, 2 August 2015 19:57 (2 days ago) Permalink

Pfft well shit idk

not a garbageman, i am garbage, man (m bison), Sunday, 2 August 2015 20:07 (2 days ago) Permalink

debt/gdp is cyclical. varies alot within countries over time as well as across countries, and doesn't have anything to do with "power" or gdp. also, the fact that some countries have more debt & some less is necessary (world debt = 0) and good: if one country has a recession and another doesn't, the first country can borrow money from the second. i don't know how this is related to tuition and i'm still not sure what hurting's point was

flopson, Sunday, 2 August 2015 21:38 (2 days ago) Permalink

in the scarequote good old days, the hegemony (the top single-digit % or w/e) funded the tertiary education system via tax transfer because it was a key part of maintaining hegemony. boomers appear, the universities were opened up. asia industrialized, detroit fell, you know the story. the only people who could make a decent living were college educated professionals; the policy response was "let's turn everyone into a college educated professional!" what was made possible is now mandatory. a degree is now worth what a high school diploma use to be. the hegemony has responded: why are we paying for all this shit? and so they stopped.

how i break it down to an extent.

goole, Monday, 3 August 2015 21:38 (Yesterday) Permalink

the only people who could make a decent living were college educated professionals; the policy response was "let's turn everyone into a college educated professional!" what was made possible is now mandatory.

politicians don't choose how many people go to college and it isn't mandatory for anyone to go, though. it wasnt a policy decision for more people to go to college its more like, hey you can make more money if you go to college... so people went to college. also there isn't a small group of organized people called the hegemony that used to pay for college for everyone and then decided not to...

mb there is a way to work power and hegemony into an explanation of returns to education but its not an explicit conspiracy theory IMO

flopson, Monday, 3 August 2015 22:45 (Yesterday) Permalink

when college was cheap and being college educated meant comfy middle class job for life, it was easier to justify transferring the cost to individuals. that decision wasn't made by some hegemonic conspiracy, it was made indirectly by the lack of resistance every time this state or that state cut funding and raised tuition.

iatee, Monday, 3 August 2015 23:44 (Yesterday) Permalink

it wasnt a policy decision for more people to go to college

it wasnt?

dead (Lamp), Monday, 3 August 2015 23:52 (Yesterday) Permalink

also

the hegemony has responded: why are we paying for all this shit?

seems more like something that's *going* to happen than something that did happen. if sending all those poor kids to college stops being the publicly accepted magical wand solution to all kinds of policy problems, then things are gonna get worse for the institutions involved.

iatee, Monday, 3 August 2015 23:56 (Yesterday) Permalink

I think that shit is gonna hit American universities in the not so distant future and that's one reason I've left the USA

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 00:03 (7 hours ago) Permalink

certainly all kinds of questionable shit being paid for by someone or other when really we should be transferring cash directly from extractive oligarchs to the bank accounts of everyone else, it'd be extremely low-cost to run

go hang a salami I'm a canal, adam (silby), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 00:43 (6 hours ago) Permalink

maybe once it all collapses and they fire all the incompetent boobs who haven't been educating anyone i'll finally be able to get a job

j., Tuesday, 4 August 2015 00:46 (6 hours ago) Permalink

Ok xps sorry I wasn't explaining myself clearly at all. First of all, it has nothing to do with tuition, it just has to do with the article posted about the problems facing millennials in the future, one of which is (allegedly) growing federal debt. And I was saying that I feel like the left take is often to shrug off the idea of growing federal debt being any threat to our future (hope I am not strawmanning here, do not mean to), and I am wondering what take on that people ITT have.

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:07 (6 hours ago) Permalink

Sovereign debt is not like household debt, the U.S. national debt could grow indefinitely without an actual problem happening; if the dollar were to somehow inflate dramatically relative to the RMB then maybe there would be a problem? That's my assumption.

go hang a salami I'm a canal, adam (silby), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:13 (6 hours ago) Permalink

So yes I totally ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that off, who cares how much debt we have, it's how we get dollars to exist without printing them, it's less inflationary right? In theory?

go hang a salami I'm a canal, adam (silby), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:15 (6 hours ago) Permalink

Sovereign debt is not like household debt but that doesn't automatically mean it can grow indefinitely without a problem. Nations have actually run into problems before when their sovereign debt got too large. Hence one of the questions I was asking: does the assumption that it will never become a problem for us implicitly rest on the assumption of us remaining the most powerful country in the world? I mean Greece, which is not so powerful, is at the mercy of its creditors.

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:22 (6 hours ago) Permalink

in diplomatic fashion i agree with elements of what both of you are saying. you can't continue accumulating massive loads of debt in perpetuity without running into problems at some point. but people like krugman will repeatedly argue that the amount of debt the U.S. current has and is projected to have in the near future isn't a fatal problem that can't be solved. there's precedent for nations taking on more debt (as % of GDP) as the U.S. and coming out fine by making policy adjustments. he was trying to persuade people of this back during the loudest days of calls for austerity, arguing instead for more stimulus/federal spending. but i guess all of that depends on how much you trust krugman and his econofriendz.

1992 ball boy (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:31 (5 hours ago) Permalink

but out of the list of things that will possibly happen in the future that will be terrible for me, the ramifications of federal debt is low on the list

1992 ball boy (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:32 (5 hours ago) Permalink

I think I basically agree with the Krugman-n-friendz take that you don't do austerity in a recession, and that ideally you spend the money on things like infrastructure projects that provide jobs to the working/middle class (who will spend money) and benefit the larger economy (e.g. by providing better transportation for workers and goods).

I am sort of wondering "at some point in the distant future is the federal debt going to fuck with my life at all?" though

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:33 (5 hours ago) Permalink

Greece's debt was also denominated in a non-sovereign currency, which seems like a confounding factor. Really, the raw size of the debt or the debt:gdp ratio wouldn't concern me as much as, like, the RMB suddenly getting way more expensive. Or some other kind of disaster. Our debt's cheap.

go hang a salami I'm a canal, adam (silby), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:35 (5 hours ago) Permalink

yes definitely the euro made things much more immediately terrible for greece (since it had no option of inflating its way out of the debt).

five six and (man alive), Tuesday, 4 August 2015 01:37 (5 hours ago) Permalink


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