The recession has changed the way many Americans live, causing some to file for unemployment, go back to school, relocate, or downsize. The economic downturn is also showing effects of changing how the next generation of young adults will adapt to the changed economy they are inheriting. According to the NPR article “US Jobs Between Young And Old Is Widest Ever,” a new study by the Pew Research Center shows, in record numbers, young adults are choosing to live with their parents longer and delaying marriage to raise kids out of wedlock, if they choose to have them at all.
Many young adults and new graduates are struggling to take their first steps in a new economy where a slew of seasoned workers have been displaced. In fact, only 54 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are currently employed, which is the lowest employment rate for the age group since the government began gathering data in 1948. Those who are employed are also being hit by the recession by earning about 6 percent less than in 2007.
No matter the numbers, young adults remain optimistic that their chances of employment will improve, with only 9 percent believing they won’t reach their future financial goals, which is the same as it was before the recession. For those who are creative, ingenuous, willing to work hard, and persevere, there will be opportunity.
“I’m surprised young adults remain so optimistic,” said Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau in the article. “The research points to long-term economic problems for young adults. But many of the trends we are seeing among young people — postponing marriage, living at home, staying in school longer — can be viewed more as short-term ways to cope until the economy picks up.” I see these young adults as wisely sizing up their options and looking in new and different ways to create opportunity for themselves.
As our society adapts to more frugal lifestyles and employment insecurities, we will probably continue to change tradition, re-evaluate our values, and find creative ways to say afloat. The positive reading of this new study is that young adults are still powered by their optimism to look for work, continue their educations, and make sacrifices. How can you support a young adult to keep their optimism? What are some long-term adjustments you can help a young adult make? How can coaching a young person help them to see the options they can create? Who are the best examples of this in your world? How can you showcase those people for other young people?