Generation U — Unfortunate, Unlucky, Unemployed

The Lost Generation

They are the countless young men and women eager for an opportunity but have found few, if any. They have desirable skills, are highly educated, and are more than willing to work.

Sadly, crippled by college debt and graduated into a struggling economy, they stand little chance to find gainful employment in their chosen fields and take temporary jobs they are overqualified for. They lie waiting for the dream job they went to school for — but it probably doesn’t exist.

My name is Lance and sadly, I share in this story. Like my twentysomething peers, I am one of the thousands of faces of America’s Generation U — Unfortunate, Unlucky, and Unemployed.

Make no mistake about it, this current economy is the worst in memory.

For my age group also known as Generation Y or the Millennials, recent college graduates find it harder than ever to get decent-paying jobs in their chosen profession, and the money they are not making today and tomorrow has severe consequences for their future.

Consequences such as several years of low earnings and an increased likelihood of unemployment in the future.

My generation grew up during the longest economic expansion of the 20th Century and then graduated into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Because of the economy, Millennials are putting off marriage, having children, buying homes and instead opting to move back home with their parents.

They didn’t choose to delay making those adult decisions — the economy chose for them because many are not making enough money to independently support themselves, much less someone else.

The missed opportunities, prolonged period of joblessness and the economy’s brutally slow recovery have labeled young adults the “Lost Generation” of the Great Recession.

Let’s see the tale of the tape:

Right now, young people account for 26 percent of America’s unemployed, and about 17 percent of America’s youth are jobless.

Here are some other interesting, albeit depressing statistics.

As reported by The Atlantic magazine with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As reported by The Atlantic magazine with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The six percent decrease in median weekly earnings from 2007 to 2011 was the worst among any age group.

Even with the tough economy, more young adults are enrolled in school or college now than at any time in history. Unfortunately, the cost of college has tripled since 1980.

Don’t get me wrong: the economy’s sluggish recovery from a recession that officially ended in June 2009 hurts for everyone from liberals to conservatives, to Baby Boomers to Millennials.

But the road to recovery for Millennials will take even longer than their older peers and their parents.

As opposed to the Baby Boomers who lost their savings and postponed retirement and Gen X-ers who entered an economy with jobs but have seen their careers stagnate, Millennials can’t even start a career because of the lack of entry-level jobs.

As reported by The Atlantic magazine, it’s estimated that two decades after graduating into a recession, an unlucky generation can continue earning 10 percent less than somebody who left school a few years before or after the downturn.

It’s strange to think that the housing crisis that caused the financial meltdown most negatively affects the one age demographic that didn’t own a home.

But the faces behind the statistics give a more human element to this problem.

I graduated college in May 2010 anxious about what the future would hold as the newspaper and print media industry I planned to make a career out of tanked and is now the fastest shrinking industry in the US.

For about seven and a half months, I lived at home with my parents in Tampa, Fla. where I worked in the restaurant they owned by night and freelanced for different content farms and designed websites for local businesses by day.

In December, I moved a thousand miles north to the nation’s capital to find opportunity as Florida had few, if any.

I have now lived in Washington, DC for almost two years and I’ve been an intern, a part-time and full-time temp, salaried, underemployed, gainfully employed, and now unemployed again thanks to a recent layoff. In one year, I’ve been unemployed three times and since graduation I have never had a job for longer than eight months.

Among my group of peers, none of us have all had a job at the same time. One gets hired, another gets laid off — it’s almost like some twisted form of economic Final Destination.

For Millennials, it’s hard to find a silver lining during such difficult economic times.

And for me, the cycle continues.