What? And leave the comfort of the basement?
March 15, 2012 2:05 PM   Subscribe

This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about. The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees.
posted by Ruthless Bunny (302 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
No point in moving when theres nothing to move to
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2012 [27 favorites]



This strikes me as so odd. If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure? What do any of them have to lose?

I suppose I have a gypsy soul because when the going gets tough, I look for ways to get going. I love the idea of new places and new faces.

Now that I have a mortgage and a spouse, it's not as easy to chuck it all, shake the dirt of whatever burg I'm in and move on, but that doesn't stop me from seeing what retirement in France is like.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


"To those who say that our expenditures for Public Works and other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order. " -FDR
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [99 favorites]


Notice how popular the word “random” has become among young people. A Disney TV show called “So Random!” has ranked first in the ratings among tweens. The word has morphed from a precise statistical term to an all-purpose phrase that stresses the illogic and coincidence of life. Unfortunately, societies that emphasize luck over logic are not likely to thrive.

What the fuck is this nonsense. One of these shitty "why aren't these kids just getting jobs!??" articles comes out every month but this is the dumbest one yet.
posted by theodolite at 2:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [119 favorites]


Good. Less gasoline used, less abuse of the earth for said gasoline.
posted by Melismata at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder how this correlates with 20-somethings living at their folk's house.
posted by rtimmel at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2012


Wait. Did you really just post an article that includes the line, "But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother"?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


Well Ruthless Bunny I can't speak for my whole generation but if I moved to North Dakota I'd lose the roof I currently have over my head since I live with my parents and I have essentially no savings because even a job opening doors at an apartment building requires a fucking bachelor's degree. In San Francisco, anyway.
posted by MattMangels at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother

Ohhhhh, I get it.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just can't understand why all these young people who have known since childhood that they will be the ones to inherit a whatever poisoned and fume-choked environment is left once their parents are done with it are refusing to buy cars and spoil their inheritance a little more!
posted by No-sword at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wait. Did you really just post an article that includes the line, "But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother"?

Thomas L. Friedman is so mad he didn't come up with that
posted by theodolite at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [40 favorites]


If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure?

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:10 PM


Adventure costs money.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


The author seems to really really not get the point of The Grapes of Wrath at all. The Joads are forced off their land, which they should have been able to live on for generations, by evil bankers. With no money and nowhere to go, they are convinced by ads to go to California, which turns out to be a huge mistake because way too many people are already looking for work there and the working conditions are terrible. By the end of the book most of the family ends up either dead or in very bad shape. This is not a story about moving on to greener pastures that the author of the article seems to think it is.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [179 favorites]


If North Dakota is the sole shining economic beacon in a nation of 300 million, I would stay at home too.

The oilfield jobs are not for everyone. They are dirty, dangerous, and frankly brutal jobs. I know that in the construction camps around British Columbia, it can get pretty hairy. There's lots of serious drug use and other problems.

Stay home, get educated or trained in a useful occupation, and stay safe.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Remember when generation x was just a bunch of flannel wearing slackers? I guess it is generation y's turn to be generation "why bother".

Seriously, fuck this guy. Does this article require any deeper analysis? If there is any great sloth involved it isn't with a generation of hundreds of thousands of individuals but an author who looks at rates of driver's licence ownership and concluding we are at home on Facebook.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


"But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother"

MeFi pun quality this ain't.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, there is even a television show popular among the over-50 set called "Antiques Roadshow." Does this titular "roadshow" imply that this great generation appreciates the freedom of the open road in a way that our sniveling children cannot?
posted by theodolite at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [37 favorites]




If your parents are Tea Partiers, you have a public duty to stay at home, annoy them constantly, and cancel out their votes in local elections.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


Things that used to be standard issue for the middle class are now signs of wealth and luxury. The New York Times doesn't notice this because they are wealthy. Welcome to modern America.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [66 favorites]


Well, this doesn't jive with what I'm familiar with, but then again, I moved from New Jersey (a place everyone leaves) to DC (a place everybody moves to...then leaves).
posted by schmod at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


This strikes me as so odd. If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure? What do any of them have to lose?

Personally speaking, I've lived in terrible places and there's usually reasons people don't live there. One place I lived, I calculated I literally would've been better living on the beach in LA in both medical and mental health costs. That's to say nothing of doing a dangerous and dirty job. The only thing worse than being stuck in North Dakota, to my mind, is getting injured and not being able to leave North Dakota.

And there's the not-insignificant factor that moving places costs money. A fair amount of money. There's finding a place to live, food, the not inconsequential price of gas nowadays. I've spent the last few years wandering from job to job around the country and my bills are horrendous. And we don't even have stuff, just whatever will fit in the car.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


More from a bunch of young people who explain why they can't move.
posted by palindromic at 2:24 PM on March 15, 2012


Here in Europe, people have - for many reasons - traditionally not engaged in very much geographic mobility and the economy in most places has not suffered for it. Indeed, "brain drain" to backwaters like London is a much bigger problem than people staying put.
posted by three blind mice at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moving is expensive. Getting a place of your own is expensive. Relocating to a place with few or no friends is hard for most people, but you especially need to rely on them in difficult and stressful times.

Every job interview I've ever had post-2008 has made a big deal about relocation - "why do you want to move here to work for us? Why did you move so much over the past few years? Are you ready to settle down with this job for the long haul, or will you pick up and move away in a year?" At least in my experience, someone who moves around a lot is seen as a liability, for reasons I don't really understand.
posted by naju at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Our cross-country move to greener pastures almost broke the bank...and the pastures aren't really that much greener (at least in the short term). It was a huge gamble that really might not pay off. Honestly, my peers and I (late 20's fwiw) are scrambling over jobs that just might someday pay 40k a year.

Our goals aren't to be rich, our goals is to be not poor.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


I feel that, as a twenty-something, I have a great deal of potential mobility.

potential downward mobility, anyway.
posted by One Thousand and One at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I felt like a grandpa reading that. I moved away from home the morning after I graduated high school, and the day after I graduated from uni I moved 2,273 miles. I have a 24 y.o. acquaintance with a college diploma in computer programming who lives with his parents, half-heartedly looks for employment, and whole-heartedly plays World of Warcraft all the time. He is a very smart guy but I do not get how he can stand to be in the same dwelling as his parents. When I had the option to live in a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 roommates and eat old bananas and old bread and rice and beans it was a no-brainer.
posted by bukvich at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


It must be noted that if all the unemployed people in any single large city in the U.S. moved to North Dakota, they would be 10-20 times the number of available jobs in the state and N.D. would instantly have one of highest unemployment rates in the county.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


People cant so much as sneeze without the times having a genteel fit aboit it.

Hey how did the CEO make 23 mil last year and the paper only made ?
posted by The Whelk at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm also thinking about those who graduate into careers that require licensure/certification--a lot of those vary from state to state and you have to pay money, take classes, learn new laws/regulations, etc. to get certified in a different state. The college I work at certainly takes that into account for establishing new programs--since my state worries about "brain drain," it's usually a selling point that programs that ultimately require licensure/certification would tie the graduates to staying in the state.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:31 PM on March 15, 2012


Standard NYT blabla.
One thing I come to think of is when the welfare state fails, one becomes more attached to family. Young people don't want to move too far from home because of healthcare, rent, food. Scholarships in faraway places are becoming extinct. (I spent today looking for funding for students)
I don't want to move too far away from my remaining parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents even though there is some help, because that help is not good enough.
An open, free society is also a society where one is independent of ones family, if necessary. I don't want to disregard my family, and luckily, I don't have to, because I have a job with all sorts of family care leaves. But I can see how mobility is being diminished because of greater family dependency.
posted by mumimor at 2:32 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I felt like a grandpa reading that. I moved away from home the morning after I graduated high school, and the day after I graduated from uni I moved 2,273 miles. I have a 24 y.o. acquaintance with a college diploma in computer programming who lives with his parents, half-heartedly looks for employment, and whole-heartedly plays World of Warcraft all the time. He is a very smart guy but I do not get how he can stand to be in the same dwelling as his parents. When I had the option to live in a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 roommates and eat old bananas and old bread and rice and beans it was a no-brainer.

you sound like a grandpa, too
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 2:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [19 favorites]



What I found interesting about the statistic is that movement among this age group is down 40%.

I suspect that many college educated kids, unable to find work in the fields in which they are educated use that as an excuse to not work at all.

Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

It may not pay what you want it to pay, it may not be exactly what you were educated for, but as I said to myself when I took that first phone company job back in 1983, "It will do until something better comes along."

You have to be open to experience. Some will suck, some will be amazing, most will be mundane and boring and provide a regular paycheck.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I moved a little over a thousand miles away from home at 17, in 2000, and in 2005 I moved another thousand miles or so, neither time with a job lined up or any money to speak of.

There is no fucking way in hell I'd make either of those moves in this economy. You'd have to be insane. It is a completely different set of circumstances.
posted by enn at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2012 [26 favorites]


*Shrug*

I moved out of my parents' house at 19, and have only lived with them when I was between apartments. That said, I've lived in the county I grew up in my whole life. For the most part, I like it here.
posted by drezdn at 2:35 PM on March 15, 2012


Things that used to be standard issue for the middle class are now signs of wealth and luxury. The New York Times doesn't notice this because they are wealthy. Welcome to modern America.

Let me add, some things that used to be signs of wealth and luxury are also now more standard issue. The internet is the best entertainment venue in the history of the planet and has a lot of bang for the buck that way if you can afford it.

However, I want to slam my head into the wall when I read those Times stories about how people who make $200,000 a year aren't wealthy because they spent on things like college for their kids. No, that is something the wealthy do now. The middle class drowns in debt.

As someone who spends way too much time online and connected 24 hours a day, I don't need a big house or a fancy car or a lot of possessions. I can see myself living in what would appear to be a very spartan lifestyle, but even then rent, healthcare, taxes, transportation, food, student loans...it's going to wipe out the budget.

It's not like everyone's parents are doing so hot either in this economy, why not share some of the burden in one household? You can share cars, chores, bills, childcare, etc. As long as everyone respects each other and acts like adults it can be a pretty ideal lifestyle to have family around, ya know, if you like your family.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:37 PM on March 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


Like others, I wait with increasing anxiety for The Boss to write a song that will get us out of this mess.
posted by perhapses at 2:37 PM on March 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


There is no fucking way in hell I'd make either of those moves in this economy. You'd have to be insane. It is a completely different set of circumstances.

Well no, not without something lined up. But that's the point I think. Now we have the web, and you can research all of this, and even apply to jobs from anywhere in the country.

I said, I'd be looking at North Dakota so hard, not because I want to work in an oil field, but there are tons of other jobs supporting those workers. I have a friend who plans on going there to paint houses. He'll live in his camper due to the shortages, but the money there is worth it to him.

At some point, you have to make your opportunities for yourself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:37 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard.

I don't know you, but odds are this isn't true.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:38 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hello! I am a Pokémon generation (fuck zed) and I totally moved out for randoms yo!. In the last seven months, my rent has gone up by 226% while my income went up by 6%. Now I live in a cool city surrounded by all sorts of trendy restaurants, night spots and gatherings and I get to go to none of them! YAY SRIRACHA AND WHITE BREAD FOREVAR!
posted by Seiten Taisei at 2:38 PM on March 15, 2012 [68 favorites]


(Because if you were single and jobless you'd be one of the people who are the subject of the article.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm 27. I've done a lot of travelling, lived in a few different places, done some huge roadtrips, worked some fun seasonal jobs, volunteered with Americorps, followed a band on the other side of the world. You know why? Because my parents are well-off -- not to mention incredibly supportive -- and I had the incredible luxury of blowing a chunk of my summer savings on an international vacation or a set of SCUBA gear and not having to worry about what happens if I run completely out of money and can't pay rent. I had the luxury of driving across the country and living in a church as a Katrina volunteer and not having to worry about what happens if I couldn't find a job when my savings ran out.

If you don't have a safety net, a fallback plan of some kind, you aren't going to go on wild adventures in search of a better life. Unless you are truly desperate you are going to stay right where you are and keep grinding away to put food in your belly and keep a roof over your head. If you are truly desperate, your resources are so limited that your choice of what adventure to have might look more like prostitution vs. robbery than Wyoming vs. North Dakota, you know?
posted by Scientist at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


Living in the same state as your parents is not a sign of the apocalypse. It's a good thing that trendy locations aren't attracting all the youthful energy and brainpower.
posted by DU at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

Sure, if you have 25 years of experience. The problem here is when people can't even get in at the ground level and therefore can't get any experience doing anything. And when the jobs come back, those positions are more likely to go to someone just out of school than those who had been passed over in the past.
posted by stopgap at 2:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


Living in the same state as your parents is not a sign of the apocalypse. It's a good thing that trendy locations aren't attracting all the youthful energy and brainpower.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the percentage of people who actually move away from home (at least, beyond a 25-50 mile radius) pretty low historically? I need to track down the numbers, but last time I did some reading it was something like 65% of the population staying put for their entire lives.
posted by verb at 2:42 PM on March 15, 2012


Also, for fuck's sake:
Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000.
So is this because 20-somethings are no longer riding bikes cross-country to these greener pastures where all the jobs are? Or... could it be because nobody has any fucking money?!
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2012 [49 favorites]


I just can't understand why all these young people who have known since childhood that they will be the ones to inherit a whatever poisoned and fume-choked environment is left once their parents are done with it are refusing to buy cars and spoil their inheritance a little more!

Most people I know came from somewhere else (I live in Las Vegas). Most people I know moved here without a car.

I realize that people will go to any length to grind their axes, but "buying a car and ruining the environment!!!1!" has nothing at all to do with the decision to relocate. Implying it does is insulting to those without jobs.
posted by coolguymichael at 2:46 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shit, yet another way I am destroying America.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sure, if you have 25 years of experience. The problem here is when people can't even get in at the ground level and therefore can't get any experience doing anything.

THIS. A thousand times THIS. I've run across admin jobs looking for 5-6 years experience and a Bachelors degree, for $10 bucks an hour. I've had temp agencies scoff at 4 years experience in a field. There's only traction out there if you had a halfway decent job before the crash.

For those of us who had shitty work to begin with, there's not much more to move down to.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:48 PM on March 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


So there's work if you want it.

No, it's really a lot harder than that. I'm speaking as someone who lives in Orange County, CA, home of at least two strip malls on every corner, and I couldn't get hired for a seasonal job at Target ffs. I just got hired last week for a temp/seasonal job at Disneyland after a year of unemployment and moving back in with my parents.

And in anecdotal evidence, four of my friends moved to Texas, and one went to Oregon for grad school. All from Socal. All under 25. Troll harder next time, NYT.
posted by book 'em dano at 2:49 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe traditionally (over the last 50 years), large-scale labour mobility was facilitated by relatively high-paying, relatively low-skilled manufacturing work, either in, say, the auto industry or in the "Blue Sky" industries of California.

These days, that sort of work has either been shipped to China, or the work itself requires, at the very least, a couple of years of specialized training.

I've worked with the tech industry for the past 6 or 7 years, mostly on sector-wide HR projects, and the big lesson is that neither parents nor teachers truly understand what it takes to get a job these days, and therefore it's really difficult for high school kids to choose an education and career path that will result in a job that pays middle-class wages.

Unemployment is pretty high (7.5%) where I live, but there is also a skills shortage; the biggest constraint to growth some sectors face is a lack of skilled workers.

Yet the number of post-secondary graduates with science and technology degrees has continued to decline over the past decade.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:49 PM on March 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Kids stay of other people's lawns, people complain about it.

But seriously. When travel has become more expensive and more of a hassle I understand why fewer people travel. i also don't think it is a bad idea per se. Gives people more commitment to where they are.
posted by edgeways at 2:51 PM on March 15, 2012


Gen - Y er here, working and living at home (hi haters!)

It's not that I don't want to move out, I do, but there are less safety nets out there in the event that I could move out. I can't walk into a Starbucks and get a barissta job to support myself in some New City, because I need a bachelors in Latte Science and 4 years of relevant experience. (I seriously know a dude who can't get a job at starbucks, despite having experience doing just that). Why take a chance in these conditions.

So yeah, sure I could quit my job right now and focus on what I love, and maybe hope that pans out. If the last few years have taught me anything, success is determined by blind-fucking-luck.

Right now, I'm trying to put together a Particle Effects demo reel for a few game companies, but with work I have about 3 hours at the end of the day where I can sit down and put something together (I need time to decompress, eat, etc). There's no way I can put together Blizzard Quality effects in that kind of time unless I up and quit my IT job to focus on that fulltime. I simply can't take that risk right now, what if i don't get that job back? IT jobs in the area are pretty scarce, so much so that the one I got is about 30 miles away from where I live.

This is a column written by a guy who's got no idea what's going on, basically, is what I'm trying to say.
posted by hellojed at 2:56 PM on March 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


This strikes me as so odd. If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure? What do any of them have to lose?

I suppose I have a gypsy soul because when the going gets tough, I look for ways to get going. I love the idea of new places and new faces.

Now that I have a mortgage and a spouse, it's not as easy to chuck it all, shake the dirt of whatever burg I'm in and move on, but that doesn't stop me from seeing what retirement in France is like.


I completely agree. Even with the impending mortgage and spouse, I still feel the pull of the Yukon. It'll probably never happen, but that doesn't mean I can't dream!
posted by asnider at 3:00 PM on March 15, 2012


I realize that people will go to any length to grind their axes, but "buying a car and ruining the environment!!!1!" has nothing at all to do with the decision to relocate. Implying it does is insulting to those without jobs.

Who said it had anything to do with the decision to relocate? I'm responding to the eye-rollingly stupid implication in the article that more young people "not even bothering to get their driver's licenses" can best be explained by fecklessness and timidity.
posted by No-sword at 3:02 PM on March 15, 2012


neither parents nor teachers truly understand what it takes to get a job these days

What does it take to get a job today, out of curiosity?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:06 PM on March 15, 2012


Because this is what happens when people move away from the safety nets of their families. Being unemployed or even underemployed is not a joke, not a lark, not an adventure when you don't have resources to begin with. It's terrifying, depressing, demeaning, and something that is almost impossible to recover from.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:07 PM on March 15, 2012 [24 favorites]


Surely there is a difference between being in one's 50s and being a newly minted college grad swimming in debt. For one, even if a student majored in something entirely practical, there still might not be a job available to them - layoffs and whatnot have shifted a lot of skilled older workers onto the market who are willing to take entry-level jobs. Should they work at Target for a year instead of taking low-paying/non-paying internships in hopes of bolstering their credentials and expanding their networks in order to enter into the adult employment? After all, we've just mortgaged our futures hoping to get ahead in this world, and now we're being told that we should give it all up and take just any job?

I am a grad student, and many of my friends are college grads. Most of them have pretty modest goals - steady (and hopefully interesting) work that provides enough income for independent living and a bit of travel/hobby stuff throughout the year. They also want to be near friends and family, because that's the support system that has mattered the most for these past few years. When no one was willing to give you a job, there was a buddy with a couch or a family member who needed their walls painted. The jobs market anywhere is a totally unreliable support system right now.

Moving for a possible chance at a maybe job is reasonable when either the local jobs front is extremely bleak or one is fairly isolated in their current location such that the move doesn't incur any major loss of networks. I know plenty of people who have managed to stay put in Detroit, I'm guessing that job prospects have to be really, really bleak before someone with a strong network of family, friends and professional/academic ties is willing to chance it.

What I would love is for these articles to acknowledge that the system is malfunctioning somewhere, and not that an entire 'generation' (however defined) is somehow conspiring to score free Doritos for life from Mom and Dad. Many of us have made the correct sacrifices (school time and debt), gone into the right fields (STEM, law) and look where we are.
posted by palindromic at 3:07 PM on March 15, 2012 [24 favorites]


What does it take to get a job today, out of necessity?
posted by clearly at 3:08 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If only he'd invested the care in writing this article that he did in writing his own Wikipedia entry.

On the other hand this is a small investment to introduce his daughter to the high-paid, high-status world of punditry so that when she graduates from college she won't have to load up a rickety old truck with mattresses and move out of state -- like Tom Joad.
 
posted by Herodios at 3:09 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Chances are, 20-somethings, for the most part, still have to rely on family to help them through the hard times, of which there are a-plenty. Moving states away from your life line is not beneficial, if you can even afford to do it to begin with. The money is just not there.
posted by Malice at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, wait. Our only choices are our parents' basements or another state?

Relocation costs money. Relocation costs more money when you're more likely, as even less-well-off 20-somethings are now, to own a fair-sized haul of electronics, furniture, even clothes. I don't live in my parents' basement; I do now live in the state where I grew up, because aside from the cost of moving, there's also a cost to living somewhere that you don't have connections. I'm not a big social butterfly. Living here, I know who's going to take care of my cats when I'm away. I know who's going to give me a lift to the airport. I know I can take my laundry to my grandmother's house if I'm short of quarters. Living here, I have the support of the church I grew up in, my childhood friends, plus all of the friends I've made more recently.

I'm not opposed to moving elsewhere, but I wouldn't do it again without a job lined up, because the last time was a disaster. That's not a lack of maturity on my part. That's behaving like a responsible adult. Yes, other places have lower unemployment rates than my current state, but trying to find a job before you move is incredibly hard, and the last time I moved out of state, I got where I was going to discover that every interview I had, they told me they weren't going to hire me because they didn't think I was living there permanently. I would have done better if I'd just stayed here. And I don't even like my parents.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because this is what happens when people move away from the safety nets of their families. Being unemployed or even underemployed is not a joke, not a lark, not an adventure when you don't have resources to begin with. It's terrifying, depressing, demeaning, and something that is almost impossible to recover from.

Fair point. But it is possible to line-up an out-of-state job before you make the big move.
posted by asnider at 3:11 PM on March 15, 2012


What does it take to get a job today, out of curiosity?

I wish I knew, but I can report that is is not graduate degrees or a willingness to work in retail or food service instead of your chosen profession.
posted by stopgap at 3:13 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure?

It probably made more sense to move back when you got the sense that a different place might be... well, different. If it's the same 25 chain stores and restaurants in the same strip malls that you have in your own nearby cities, then it's hard to muster any sense that there are any adventures to be had there whatsoever.
posted by hermitosis at 3:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


How easy is it to get a job from far away these days? That's never been easy, particularly for people without a lot of job experience, and I suspect it's even harder now, when for every entry-level position you have at least 70 local applicants.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:15 PM on March 15, 2012


But it is possible to line-up an out-of-state job before you make the big move.

Yes, and I did this about a year and a half ago. But as some have mentioned, employers want to know things like:

"Why do you want to move here?"
"Are you sure you can handle moving so far away from where you are?"
"How do you plan on finding a place to live?"
"If you're not familiar with the area, how will you figure all of this out?"

Ridiculous questions, in my opinion, but they ask them. I had something like 15 interviews, all for jobs that were hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from where I was (I now live about 1200 miles away from my previous residence). Not only was I competing with others who wanted the job, I had to also convince the employers that I could move. It is not an easy task, this convincing.
posted by King Bee at 3:15 PM on March 15, 2012


Wow, he did actually write his own Wikipedia entry. Also, his face is exactly what Douglas Adams would have described as "brickable". When someone eats enough shit to get a grin like that, you just know it's going to come pouring out of their mouth as soon as they open it.
posted by Scientist at 3:17 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Has anyone considered the impact of the increased safety-and-security worries parents have may be having on this?

What I mean is: when I was a kid, my parents made me go play outside once in a while. They had some safety warnings, sure, but for the most part, it was "go outside, it's fun out thre." I got hurt sometimes, sure, but when I did, we took care of it, no big. I still don't ride my bike fast after taking a massively bad spill when I was ten - but I do ride my bike.

But for the past ten years, parents have supervised their kids to death and scheduled them and enacted all kinds of barriers and restrictions and safety measures. Do we really not think maybe this has taught these now-grown children that "the world is scary, stay home where it's safe"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Also, speaking as someone whose life is not without some stress and difficulty but who is basically doing just fine and still feels like he has a bright future, I would rather move back with my parents than to North Dakota simply because North Dakota is one of the last places on earth that I would want to spend my days. Also, nobody is going to give my ridiculous ass a job on an oilfield and there aren't that many jobs to go around up there as it is. A low unemployment rate does not mean tons of jobs. There are twice as many people in my metro area than in the entire state of North Dakota, and New Orleans isn't even a large city.
posted by Scientist at 3:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


"In 'The Grapes of Wrath,' young Tom Joad loads up his jalopy with pork snacks and relatives, and the family flees the Oklahoma dust bowl for sun-kissed California. Along the way, Granma dies, but the Joads keep going."

I agree that this is a humiliatingly facile interpretation of the book's events, and is enough to completely discredit anything that follows. And this is the NYT??
posted by hermitosis at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard. Where is the sense of adventure? What do any of them have to lose?

Fingers and toes, perhaps? There would be great professional opportunities for my husband in ND and SD (maybe me too, haven't looked into it), but I don't think we could take the weather.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fair point. But it is possible to line-up an out-of-state job before you make the big move.


No, normally it's not possible. That's the whole goddamn point. Are you people paying attention at all or what?
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [24 favorites]


Plus, when I was trying to arrange to move from the East Coast to the West Coast 12 years ago, when I told people in West Coast city that I currently lived in East Coast city but was interested in their apartment, they would hang up on me.

And and and, I had the resources (money) to move and to be unemployed for a while and to stay with friends while I found a place to live (which many young people today do not have). And it still wasn't easy.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Has anyone considered the impact of the increased safety-and-security worries parents have may be having on this?

Honestly, it's really just mostly the money.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


I had to also convince the employers that I could move. It is not an easy task, this convincing.

OK, that would be incredibly frustrating.

No, normally it's not possible. That's the whole goddamn point. Are you people paying attention at all or what?

My vantage point might be skewed, especially since I live in Canada, but I know plenty of people who have moved across the country for jobs (that they lined up ahead of time). If you're looking to a location that needs workers and have a low population (such as the example of North Dakota), I'm failing to see why employers wouldn't be willing to hire someone from out of state.

I will fully admit, though, that my anecdata is purely that and may not apply in a broader context.
posted by asnider at 3:30 PM on March 15, 2012


I'm responding to the eye-rollingly stupid implication in the article that more young people "not even bothering to get their driver's licenses" can best be explained by fecklessness and timidity.

Right, blaming the drop in drivers' licenses on Facebook is somewhat ridiculous.

A driver's license these days is a long term investment, not a rite of passage. I didn't own a car until I was in my 20s, but I got a license when I was 16 because our school driver's ed lab cost something like $40 for the semester, and using my parents car on nights and weekends to get to evening/summer jobs was a way that I could make some money and get some experience in the job world even before going off to college. That worked out great.

These days, however, it's difficult to see how a driver's license can pay off in the same way. Driver's ed labs can often cost $400 or more, hardly small change. Insurance for a teen male can cost literally thousands of extra dollars a year. Add license fees and gas into the mix, and for a 16 year old guy, there's a startup cost of approximately $1500 over those first six months of having a license - to simply be able to borrow your parents' car.

At the current minimum wage, that's approximately 207 hours of work. Which means that it takes 207 hours of work over those 6 months to pay to borrow a car to, uh, get to work. You have to work 8 hours a week (in addition to going to school), just in order to earn enough to drive to work for those 8 hours per week.

Which seems like a whole lot of work in order to be able to work. And which is also a fairly substantial gamble, since $1500 is in no way pocket change to families or teens, and not having that cash available for emergencies or necessities can be problematic in obvious ways. In prior decades, with a lower initial outlay, not getting a license would be a liability. However, with the huge startup costs that teens face today, the process of actually getting a license and insurance creates a potential liability, where there is a large amount of money that may not be able to be paid back.

The same issue is at play with the notion of relocation, with college degrees, and with finding housing: it can cost an incredible amount - one that creates a substantial amount of debt and risk - to get to the point where one can move to a city and be able to commute to a job. Sure, there are ways to get by -- but it was not nearly as difficult as it is today.

It appears that it's simply become increasingly hard for young folks to simply afford the basics of life that allow them to effectively be part of the job market and quickly become self-sufficient. And that's a pretty scary thing, both for today's teens, and for the economy.
posted by eschatfische at 3:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny: "What I found interesting about the statistic is that movement among this age group is down 40%.

I suspect that many college educated kids, unable to find work in the fields in which they are educated use that as an excuse to not work at all.

Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

It may not pay what you want it to pay, it may not be exactly what you were educated for, but as I said to myself when I took that first phone company job back in 1983, "It will do until something better comes along."

You have to be open to experience. Some will suck, some will be amazing, most will be mundane and boring and provide a regular paycheck.
"

Even as ancedata, I am also one of those Gen-Y students who just came home from a job [as a plumber's assistant] that they don't want (hint: didn't even make any money today because I was renovating a sibling's bathroom) which I am 'telling myself that something better will come along' even though it has been 34 months since I've graduated from a liberal arts college after countless informational interviews, applications, and interviews.

I am rarely snarky or bitter here on metafilter, but as others have argued earlier in the thread, that author makes some disingenuous assumptions about the motivations and circumstances of Gen Y. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by fizzix at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you're looking to a location that needs workers and have a low population (such as the example of North Dakota), I'm failing to see why employers wouldn't be willing to hire someone from out of state.

The specific case of North Dakota is pretty much unique in the US right now and involves dangerous, ugly jobs that many (most) people are entirely unsuited to in skill, temperament, and/or physical capabilities.

In all other circumstances, getting hired for a job long-distance, in this economy, is extremely difficult if you don't have specific, in-demand skills. I might be able to job-hunt, long-distance, for a job involving software development. That's because I have five years of experience building out requirements, working with customers, and writing code. If I was a kid right out of school, why would anybody ever bother talking to me, when I can't even easily come by for an interview and they've got ten thousand locals who'll be a little easier to interview, and are less likely to bail out halfway through the interview process because relocation's too expensive?
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Join the military and see the world, get out and get veterans pref.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 3:39 PM on March 15, 2012


>neither parents nor teachers truly understand what it takes to get a job these days

What does it take to get a job today, out of curiosity?


Well, in Canada, at least, as the workforce retires, there is a trend towards labour shortages in skilled trades. Most cities have plenty of software jobs out there. Healthcare is an expanding industry, specifically in the realm of nursing and technologist positions.

It's not enough to tell a kid to go university to get a BA or whatever, because education is expensive and it takes time to retool. It might be better to do understand more where employers will be hiring in 4 years' time (or however long you intend to stay in school for) and then try to take courses and training to get these specialized jobs.

I myself screwed up in the late 90s by getting an education degree. In British Columbia, where I have resided for the past half decade, student enrollment has declined for the past ten years, meaning I couldn't get a teaching job. I shoulda read the demographic signs!
posted by KokuRyu at 3:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chicken and the egg on this one. Did lower social mobility create the culture that realizes things completely outside your control, inherited wealth is damned near deterministic, play a larger role than your efforts? Or has it been a self fulfilling prophecy. My money is on the former.
posted by karmiolz at 3:41 PM on March 15, 2012


Will the New York Times publish my article "College Grads Should Stop Whining: Burger King is Always Hiring"?
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


The thing that I'm always left wondering after reading about the dismal state of things for the young, the unemployed, and other marginalized populations is this: what, exactly, is the end game that the Masters of Our Country envision?

I mean, they're constantly giving each other huge bonuses and using their media arms to proclaim that they're Men (almost always Men) of Unparalleled Vision, with big swinging dicks, who can foresee all contingencies, lords of the Earth and her Resources, who always know exactly what decisions to make because they have access to facts and knowledge that the rest of us do not.

So what are they gaining by promoting this rentier stuff? Who's going to buy all the products they're having slave labor in the US (illegal immigrants & prisoners) and abroad fashion? Who's going to move into all the condo complexes that they refuse to stop building and for which they charge absolutely ridiculous rents?

They give themselves awards for firing people and forcing the remaining workers to live in stressed out fear, but who is going to buy all their shit?

How do they not see that this isn't sustainable? Or am I missing something?
posted by lord_wolf at 3:43 PM on March 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


My vantage point might be skewed, especially since I live in Canada, but I know plenty of people who have moved across the country for jobs (that they lined up ahead of time). If you're looking to a location that needs workers and have a low population (such as the example of North Dakota), I'm failing to see why employers wouldn't be willing to hire someone from out of state.

Well, firstly, North Dakota is truly the only state that is having an employment boom right now, and it is offering a very specific type of job that involves dangerous manual labor. Besides that, there are jobs aplenty, sure, but not jobs enough for every unemployed young person in America. Youth unemployment is a systemic problem that North Dakota, godblessem, can't solve.

But I also think what more and more young people are recognizing and resisting is the danger of making a jump into the great unknown. For a while, most recently in the mid-aughts, a young person could finish school and move to the nearest big city, get four roommates, scrap and live tight for a while while working two or three part-time gigs, and then settle into something more permanent and less tenuous. You pre-gamed on the weekends and ate Pop-Tarts for lunch, but it could be done and your temporary poverty felt youthful instead of terrifying.

Now, those part-time paying gigs have become full-time unpaid internships, cost of living continues to increase, and jobs for high school graduates, especially young men, have simply disappeared. Young college graduates are mired in debt. Breaking an arm or getting in a car accident is financially ruinous instead of just scary. It's easy to make two or three bad choices that will severely curtail your financial life for decades, whereas even five years ago, you could turn 30 with a steady, paid gig and look back fondly at your post-college decade as a waitress/photo assistant/PR account monkey with the rosy glow imparted by a fully-funded 401(k).

My ass looked at that accounting and promptly moved her butt into her grandmother's spare bedroom. All of my unmarried high school classmates who have remained in town have a similar arrangement. Not one of us can afford to live on our own. I don't fault anyone who did the math and made the same decision.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


How do they not see that this isn't sustainable? Or am I missing something?

Until recently, the entire economy was built on cheap consumer credit. Poor and middle-class people couldn't really afford the things they were buying, but it appeared to almost everyone that they could because their main asset, their home, was overvalued. Now, nearly everyone's equity is gone, and it took their buying power with it. We are back to being deeply-suspicious consumers, I think, but the Lords of Industry haven't caught up yet.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I’m surprised that anyone is taking the article seriously enough to offer up explanations for this "phenomenon,” which actually started in the Reagan 80s and probably has nothing to do with any of the doom-and-gloom crap in that insipid, cliché-ridden article. "Today's kids are literally going nowhere." Gag me with a spoon.

It actually angers me when journalists profit from this silly worry-drumming couched in idle speculation based on the merest, flimsiest hint of an actual fact.

Okay, I'm done now guys.

No I’m not.

Todd G. Buchholz is the author of “Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race.” Victoria Buchholz, a student at Cambridge University, is at work on a book about the neuropsychology of the teenage brain.

SO MUCH GRAAAAAAAAAR! NO WORDS CAN CONTAIN THIS GRAAAR.
posted by quincunx at 3:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Crikey Buchholz's wikipedia page is something. Somebody kick that guy in the nuts. Doesn't the New York Times have a reader's complaint department that buckles under if they get a few hundred complaints?
posted by bukvich at 3:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Relocation costs more money when you're more likely, as even less-well-off 20-somethings are now, to own a fair-sized haul of electronics, furniture, even clothes.

Sell or trade it to what you can carry and use the rest to move and setup at your destination. Having too much stuff is the absolute worst reason not to move if that's what you really want to do. sorry to be blunt, but the world is not going to beat a path to your door. If you're willing to take some risk you may be pleasantly surprised by the payoff. Of course there's a potential downside, that's why it's called risk. If you're healthy and intelligent , though, chances are that you'll get by.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:58 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So there's work if you want it.

If wrongness could be weaponized this statement could vaporize a small planet. Unless that's the work you were talking about.
posted by invitapriore at 3:59 PM on March 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


Come to think of it, I guess weaponized wrongness is pretty much the raw material of politics.
posted by invitapriore at 3:59 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


It might be better to do understand more where employers will be hiring in 4 years' time (or however long you intend to stay in school for) and then try to take courses and training to get these specialized jobs.

I dunno; I've seen what this can lead to--too many people trained for not enough jobs. When I was graduating high school, everyone had to gear up for high tech jobs. So many people went into computer science that once high-paying jobs became much less so by the time an entire cohort graduated their programs and entered the job market at the same time. A couple of people did alright in the field, lots of others were employed sporadically on and off and eventually had to take whatever came along, in their field or not. Same thing with refrigerator technician gigs while I was in university. A shortage! Surely this was the answer for young people not getting jobs! We'll train thousands of them, at extremely high cost! It is next to impossible to anticipate what the demand for these specialized jobs will be by the time people are trained, and in the meantime people have dedicated years of their lives and a huge amount of resources training for roles that may no longer be available or have become a lot less lucrative.
posted by Hoopo at 4:03 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I’m surprised that anyone is taking the article seriously enough to offer up explanations for this "phenomenon”

Yeah, this article is almost too ridiculous to discuss.
posted by OsoMeaty at 4:05 PM on March 15, 2012


If you're willing to take some risk you may be pleasantly surprised by the payoff.

The ratio of risk to reward has altered substantially for young people over the last five years in the immediate term and over the last 30 years generally. What was a reasonable risk in 2007 is almost laughably foolish in 2012. The math for something that was a reasonable risk in 1985 is almost comically stupid.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:06 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Has anyone considered the impact of the increased safety-and-security worries parents have may be having on this?

Yeah, I don't think this is much of an issue other than in a few cases. I'm from an immigrant family where it's considered normal and desirable to live with your parents until you get married, yet even as the youngest daughter, my parents felt no particular qualms about my moving to another city, or when it was a possibility, another state, for work. They were happy when I didn't move out of state of course, but when I was living with my parents while looking for work after I graduated college, it was understood that I would go wherever I found a sufficiently well-paying job. I don't know anyone who felt so pressured or influenced by their parents' safety/security anxieties that they didn't follow up on job opportunities.

What does influence recent grads is the prospect of moving far away from their support networks, and that's not an issue of helicopter parents, that's about wanting to make sure there's a safety net if a job falls through after a few months.

I'll offer my anecdata: after six months of unemployment and living with my parents after graduating, I moved to LA for a job that paid only marginally more than my on-campus student job, something I could only do because I had a cousin I could rent a room from at a below-market rate until I could save up for another place. I got a car for that move to LA with the help of my parents, who paid the down payment for me. After a couple of months, my paychecks started coming late, and the business was on the rocks. Needless to say, I was pretty fucking concerned since I had student loans and car payments to pay, to say nothing of rent. I started looking for a new job, and thankfully after less than a week of searching, found one that paid 50% more, saved up for a move, and moved within 10 miles of my new job. Consider how much of this would not have been possible, or at least would have been orders of magnitude more difficult, had I not had a support network to rely on. I couldn't have moved out to LA without having a safe, cheap living situation lined up and a car for transportation. Even when worried about getting paid at all for my full time job, I could at least feel secure that I wasn't going to get evicted, since my landlord was my cousin who wasn't relying on my rent to make her mortgage payments. Even with all of that support, I was still in a precarious situation, and I am still one medical disaster/car accident/act of god away from total financial ruin.

So no, recent grads like me are in no position to pack it up and move for the distant potential of getting a job in a new city, or for the adventure of it. There are risks we literally cannot afford to take, no matter how much we may want to.
posted by yasaman at 4:08 PM on March 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


>It might be better to do understand more where employers will be hiring in 4 years' time (or however long you intend to stay in school for) and then try to take courses and training to get these specialized jobs.

I dunno; I've seen what this can lead to--too many people trained for not enough jobs. When I was graduating high school, everyone had to gear up for high tech jobs. So many people went into computer science that once high-paying jobs became much less so by the time an entire cohort graduated their programs and entered the job market at the same time. A couple of people did alright in the field, lots of others were employed sporadically on and off and eventually had to take whatever came along, in their field or not.


The local tech sector is forecasting 10% growth over the coming year, and the local job board has 80 new postings a month (city pop is 350k). The majority of these positions are in software development, and the starting pay is $25-$30 an hour.

But not everyone can code. That's the problem with the evolving job market - it's become increasingly technocratic.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:11 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


sorry to be blunt, but the world is not going to beat a path to your door. If you're willing to take some risk you may be pleasantly surprised by the payoff. Of course there's a potential downside, that's why it's called risk. If you're healthy and intelligent , though, chances are that you'll get by.

So, here's the thing. Unemployment just about everywhere in the country is high, and as noted above, the places where it's not high tend to want specialized skill-sets that most people don't have. There's no hill for Mohomet to go to.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:15 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unemployment in 1985 wasn't much higher than now, and was still on its way down from an all-time high in 1983 of ~10.5%. Having upped and moved several times both into and out of bad economies, I don't think crunching the numbers has all that much to do with it, or that things were always better in a previous era. It is quite true that the math often doesn't justify the risk, but for n=1 the math is a signpost and not a limiting factor. I'm rather risk-averse by nature but taken too far this attitude can lead one into a sunk cost fallacy. Overall, I'd say my biggest life gains have come from throwing caution to the wind, even when that had high short or medium-term costs.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:15 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fair point. But it is possible to line-up an out-of-state job before you make the big move.

That wasn't my experience. I graduated with a computer science degree in 2005. My entire spring semester I was applying for jobs with the help of my university's career services department, and had a few interviews with some boring consulting firms, but no callbacks. Moved home to Alabama after graduation and spent all summer seeking out and applying for jobs online, in dozens of cities, through job sites like Monster, DICE, CareerBuilder, etc., and by placing calls to HR departments and generally chasing every single lead possible. I never even got a single RESPONSE from someone I didn't have live on the other end of a telephone line.

This was years before the recession began, and I had a degree and years of experience in software development, one of the few industries that still has decent prospects for new grads.

I talked to a friend who worked in a HR department, who told me "look - you're an undergrad with no full time employment history in the field, and you're in a different city. It doesn't matter where you're applying, and it doesn't matter if you aren't looking for a relocation stipend or anything like that. There are other people with the same qualifications as you, already there, who can start immediately. Nobody's going to give your application a second glance."

Through a very nerdy process I'm glossing over, I found a city that seemed to have promising job prospects and several friends of mine who didn't mind if I crashed on their sofas while I looked for work. I flew out there, went back to applying non-stop for another two months, and eventually got a job offer. And the kicker? It was for a company that didn't even acknowledge my applications to multiple job listings they had online less than a month before. Live in the same place? Here, have a job! Same exact candidate, willing to move, but not there yet? Fuck off! ::delete application, don't even bother sending automated, courtesy form rejection letter::

So yeah, it comes as no surprise to me whatsoever that kids fresh out of school armed with non-engineering degrees in the midst of the worst global recession in 80 years are having trouble lining up out-of-state jobs. The job market's awful for everybody, and it's totally believable that an employer would prefer to hire a desperate recently laid off local industry veteran over a desperate recent grad with no experience living elsewhere. But of course, as with so many other hardships that younger generations are facing lately, there are always plenty of rich adults dying to write about how it's all kids' fault for being lazy, not a result of some kind of larger societal problem. Or as this article says, they probably don't have jobs because they're living at home on Facebook all the time! Instead of: they're probably living at home and on Facebook all the time because it's free and they have no jobs so they can't afford rent or entertainment that costs money.

Anyway, occupational safety and environmental concerns aside, looking at North Dakota as a miracle cure for national unemployment is a fucking joke in the first place, as Paul Krugman has spent like four blog posts explaining recently (there's a good one here)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [34 favorites]


FOR the first time since the Depression, the American economy has added virtually no jobs in the private sector over a 10-year period. Haha, NYT article from '09.

So what jobs are people supposed to be moving to?

It's also pretty tragically comic (comically tragic?) that we seem blind sided by this. It's been in the air since Reagan.

My personal take on surviving and even overcoming and having fun with this mess is to follow the lead of some "new Americans". I know several families that came here from the middle east, asia, and south of the border who had virtually nothing. They start small, save money, start and grow a business. Some of those folk who arrived here in the '70s and '80s are now pretty wealthy and have put their kids through colleges and universities. These guys inspire me.

I'm a dad with two teens who don't have any kinds of "teen" jobs available to them. No paper route, grocery stocking etc. So while I am definitely going to help them financially during their college years, I am also teaching them as much trade stuff as I can. Welding, mechanics etc. Yea, times are tough and I'm pissed too, but there is still more opportunity here than probably 90% of the rest of the world.
posted by snsranch at 4:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The local tech sector is forecasting 10% growth over the coming year

That comment was about a specific time and place and the recommendations about what would be big in 4 or so years--in the late 90s with people graduating around the early 2000s. The infamous dot-com bubble. A lot of people who trained for "high tech" back then didn't make it and their skills are no longer current.
posted by Hoopo at 4:24 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This strikes me as so odd. If I were single and jobless I'd be looking into moving to North Dakota so hard.

Last time I looked at it, the following were all true:

* Tonnes of people moving to ND.
* ND has no infrastructure to handle that, so there is no housing. Most people wind up stacked way over capacity in apartments or, most likely, living in cars.
* North Dakota has pretty extreme weather, and not the sort of place you want to be living out of a car.
* Due to surge in population and lack of infrastructure, prices have shot up. Yes, you will make $20 an hour waiting tables. A loaf of bread is going to cost you $15 (NOTE: hyperbole! I forget the exact numbers, but the gist was "all the extra money you're making doesn't mean squat")

There's also the fact that this is due to an oil boom so no telling how long it lasts. And if you maybe have some principles and don't want to feed the oil game, then it's not really an option for you.
posted by curious nu at 4:31 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hoopo, you're in Montreal, right? The tech scene there is just booming, as it is in Vancouver, and (where I live) Victoria. Lots of jobs if you're a coder.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:32 PM on March 15, 2012


Unemployment just about everywhere in the country is high [...]

Of course. But being new in town, ambitious, and flexible in outlook is attractive and interesting to many employers. If an employer doesn't want to give you a job, you can try bargaining for one. This is itself surprising. You'll give something up in the short term, but you'll probably make it back with interest very quickly.

I appreciate that many people find the opportunity cost of this abhorrent, and feel that the concessions required to do this sort of thing are exploitative, and simply don't care for economic relations that result from mismatches of supply and demand. Change is difficult, and changes that are forced upon one by circumstances tend to feel unpleasant. On the other hand, negotiating on your own behalf instead of relying on prevailing standards is quite liberating. When I arrived in the US, as a non-citizen I had no sort of safety net because I couldn't qualify for any sort of public assistance. However, this proved to be a major asset over the long term because I followed up opportunities I would otherwise have scorned and learned skills that proved to be very valuable in other contexts, sometimes many years later. This often came down to very banal practical considerations; I learned to cook because I had no money (I mean, no money whatsoever) so I decided to get a job in a kitchen because it would include food, saving me the hassle of trying to eat while waiting a week or two for my first paycheck.

If this sounds incompatible with ideas of worker solidarity and so forth, it is. It's not for everyone, I guess.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]




Unemployment in 1985 wasn't much higher than now, and was still on its way down from an all-time high in 1983 of ~10.5%.

Yes, and the average cost of college tuition was less than $5,000 per year.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:36 PM on March 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


anigbrowl, your strategy may only be successful for a very small number of jobseekers. Fundamentally, the economy currently does not have the capacity to provide jobs to all those who are looking (or who have given up looking).
posted by KokuRyu at 4:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.

The implication being that the other one was one people were worried about? Fuck that. I was cheering them on!
posted by hippybear at 4:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Overall, I'd say my biggest life gains have come from throwing caution to the wind, even when that had high short or medium-term costs.

How many people made similar choices that didn't pay off? It's very nice that you made choices that ended up being the right ones for you. For other people they probably would have been the wrong ones. Heck, for you at different points in your life, the same decisions might have been wrong.

Also, I'd just like to throw out the idea that different people have different ideas of what it means to be successful. If my definition of a positive outcome than yours then I'm not going to have the same rewards for taking the same risks.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, and the average cost of college tuition was less than $5,000 per year.

You can do quite well in many fields without having gone to college. I didn't, and yet I succeeded in having rewarding careers in both IT and independent film without having wealthy parents or specialist knowledge. I'm mainly self-educated and am willing to work at below market rates or for nothing in order to gain experience. If someone has gone to college and is now burdened by student debt that's certainly a problem, but there are ways to mitigate that burden.

I'm not saying that making poor life choices won't set you back economically. I've made several poor life choices and suffered considerable economic losses as a result; I can look at negatives in my current situation and relate them back to bad decisions I made 25 years ago. On the other hand, I've enjoyed all sorts of less tangible benefits, including a sort of stoic optimism. My view is that engaging with life is more satisfying even when you fail and fall on your face repeatedly than never engaging with it at all and never having felt your were in control of your own destiny.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


We spent the day on Fort Myers Beach observing the spring break crowd partying and spending as if their resources are unlimited.

Now reading these comments. Seems weird. Almost like some kind of disconnect.
posted by notreally at 4:52 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


How many people made similar choices that didn't pay off?

I chose to move my young family from Japan back to Victoria, BC in 2004, and it was a dumb thing to do (in my defense, I had spent most of my adult life in Japan and really had no idea how things worked in Canada). I left an established business and spent quite a lot of money to move back and get set up. What I discovered was that my chosen profession (teaching) wasn't especially well-paying or in demand. The cost of living was also (and continues to be) quite high in Canada. It was tough to change careers. It was at the start of a housing bubble that never burst...

I suppose we could have moved to BC's equivalent of North Dakota, but northern BC is just not someplace I where I would want to live.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:55 PM on March 15, 2012


I'm a dad with two teens who don't have any kinds of "teen" jobs available to them.

It seems like "teen" jobs -- i.e. gigs that are meant to be filled by kids who are clearly not going to be spending their lives doing the same-old, same-old -- were a side effect/relic of middle class communities with discretionary cash to spare. I got my lifeguarding certs at 15, and honestly, that has been my ticket to continuous employment since. But I grew up in the types of communities that had community pools, and amusement parks (where high schoolers could be concessionaires or ride operators), and locally run movie theaters, and summer camps where 16-year-olds were counselors.

More crucially, those places were packed with kids who had free time and some degree of free roaming. The teenagers were, in effect, hired to keep the younger kids out of trouble.

It seems that now, in addition to the middle class having less discretionary income (i.e. no season passes to Busch Gardens for everyone in the family any more), the kids are rigorously scheduled and so the hang-out economy is dying.

I live in an increasingly-affluent city in the San Francisco Bay Area. I will be 40 soon. I have a full-time career that is rewarding. And I am now spending my nights (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) lifeguarding lap swimmers because a supervisor at my city's rec department knows I'm certified and called me to fill the post. Why? Because the supervisor's a pal of mine & who are we if we can't help out our pals?

Also, she couldn't find a single high school senior or college student who wanted the job.
posted by sobell at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

There's work for you. The plural of anecdote is not data.

The idea that "I did it, so you can too" needs to just stop. Not everyone has your skills. Not everyone has your experiences. It simply is NOT true that because you did something, someone else can do it too.

Stop and think about this rationally for five seconds: there's one job opening in town and it's in retail. You have umpteen years experience in a phone company. Many other people apply, given that there are more applicants than job openings, and many of them have experience in retail. Who's going to get the job? Oh? What's that you say? Yeah, not you. This is the scenario for many, many people. There are jobs. There are people who are qualified for the jobs. Not all people are qualified for all jobs. It takes time and many people simply aren't able to match their skill set to a job opening.

To pretend that because "jobs" as a vague concept exist that anyone can pick up and get one is incredibly presumptuous and more than a little naïve. Strangely, this sentiment seems to be coming from people who are also in the "50ish" age bracket, making me think that this is really a byproduct of having grown up in a time where unemployment was lower and job security was something that actually existed.
posted by sonika at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2012 [42 favorites]


anigbrowl, your strategy may only be successful for a very small number of jobseekers. Fundamentally, the economy currently does not have the capacity to provide jobs to all those who are looking (or who have given up looking).

Stop thinking about it in terms of providing jobs. A job is just the accumulated demands of people of need something done. People still buy and sell things because nobody is going to just lie down and die if they have any other alternative. Economic activity is based on mutually profitable transactions; so if you see an an opportunity for someone to save $50 you can sell it to them for $25 and you both benefit. There's no shortage of things that need to be done, and often you can profitably focus on individual tasks. this doesn't provide the economic security of a job, but a large number of tasks performed for different people means you have the beginnings of an economic network around yourself.

Also, I'd just like to throw out the idea that different people have different ideas of what it means to be successful. If my definition of a positive outcome than yours then I'm not going to have the same rewards for taking the same risks.

Certainly, and a lot of people would not consider me to be successful in economic terms. I could be more successful than I am on my own terms, if I had made some different decisions. On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for knwoing what makes you happy. I find money a bit of a chore but am able to get by while being emotionally and intellectually fulfilled.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2012


ND has no infrastructure to handle that, so there is no housing. Most people wind up stacked way over capacity in apartments or, most likely, living in cars.

Sounds familiar! It wasn't long ago when people were shouting at us to move to Calgary, they're so desperate for workers that McDonald's pays $20/hr and yaddayaddayadda, but soon after there were reports of there not being enough rental housing available.
posted by Hoopo at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2012


You can do quite well in many fields without having gone to college.

Yeah, but what fields?

'Round Philly, I teach comp at a J.C. The community college is FULL of students, it is crazy. Why? Well, my understanding is that the manufacturing jobs are gone/going and the only job-generating fields are health and education. You'd think, given Gov. Corbett's desire to frack the state to death, there'd be natural gas jobs, somewhere. Maybe these are tech jobs that also require college degrees, or maybe they are outside the Philly area.

You need college degrees for the education and health care fields. I've always had great respect for nurses, but now seeing the college courses they need to master I have so much more.
posted by angrycat at 4:59 PM on March 15, 2012


Stop thinking about it in terms of providing jobs. A job is just the accumulated demands of people of need something done. People still buy and sell things because nobody is going to just lie down and die if they have any other alternative. Economic activity is based on mutually profitable transactions; so if you see an an opportunity for someone to save $50 you can sell it to them for $25 and you both benefit. There's no shortage of things that need to be done, and often you can profitably focus on individual tasks. this doesn't provide the economic security of a job, but a large number of tasks performed for different people means you have the beginnings of an economic network around yourself.

You're talking about entrepreneurialism, and, yeah, as someone who has worked providing assistance to startups and entrepreneurs in the non-profit sector, and in government (and as someone who has run a business) I agree: we need to educate young folks (and everyone else) about entrepreneurialism - and this doesn't mean selling shit on eBay.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:01 PM on March 15, 2012


You're talking about entrepreneurialism, and, yeah, as someone who has worked providing assistance to startups and entrepreneurs in the non-profit sector, and in government (and as someone who has run a business) I agree: we need to educate young folks (and everyone else) about entrepreneurialism - and this doesn't mean selling shit on eBay.

Health care. Get single-payer national health care and you'll see a boom of young entrepreneurs.
posted by maxwelton at 5:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [34 favorites]


Now reading these comments. Seems weird. Almost like some kind of disconnect.

Maybe this is a different crowd?
posted by mek at 5:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The idea that "I did it, so you can too" needs to just stop. Not everyone has your skills. Not everyone has your experiences. It simply is NOT true that because you did something, someone else can do it too.

No, but it is true that someone else can find something to do by being willing to try something different. You don't need qualifications if you're willing to learn and work under market rate in the short term in order to gain the necessary skills. Different people find different things to do. I used to know a hippie who would make money by buying fresh fruit and then wandering round a park selling fresh-squeezed juice drinks to people. I am awful at selling stuff and couldn't do this sort of thing to save my life. On the other hand, I learned construction by starting at $5/hour under the table despite weighing only 120 pounds and being all thumbs. Two decades later it saves me a lot of money because I can fix up my own home very well.

KokuRyu says it better than I do: it's about entrepeneurialism, which is nothing more than looking at unfulfilled needs and offering to help out. It's not exploitation if you both benefit, it's cooperation - and while this isn't practical for a lot of people, young people have a very large advantage in this area. As Maxwelton says, taking such risks without the assurance of health care is very challenging. But if you're not particularly unhealthy, there's no better time to take such risk than when you're young and statistically likely to remain in good health as long as you avoid accidents or wildly unhealthy behavior.

Besides which, the likelihood of depression and the attendant health problems that accompany a life of sitting at home feeling powerless are probably a bigger danger to your health than breaking your arm thousands of miles from home.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The occupy movement we should be worried about is the oldest occupy movement of all. The one in which a miniscule sliver of the human population wastes and/or hoards the majority of the earth's wealth to the detriment of pretty much everything.
posted by nikoniko at 5:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


The plural of anecdote is not data.

Favorited so hard, I pushed my finger through the mouse and table. Ow.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 5:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to know a hippie who would make money by buying fresh fruit and then wandering round a park selling fresh-squeezed juice drinks to people.

Sorry, you need a municipal license for that, that's a $300 fine.

On the other hand, I learned construction by starting at $5/hour under the table despite weighing only 120 pounds and being all thumbs.

Sorry, the rate of employment in construction in the USA has dropped by half in the last five years (from 7.5% to 4%). If you don't have extensive experience in the field, absolutely nobody is hiring you, full stop.

But if you're not particularly unhealthy, there's no better time to take such risk than when you're young and statistically likely to remain in good health as long as you avoid accidents or wildly unhealthy behavior.

Unhealthy behaviour like taking the sketchiest possible construction job, which is the only one that will hire you?
posted by mek at 5:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I used to know a hippie who would make money by buying fresh fruit and then wandering round a park selling fresh-squeezed juice drinks to people. I am awful at selling stuff and couldn't do this sort of thing to save my life. On the other hand, I learned construction by starting at $5/hour under the table despite weighing only 120 pounds and being all thumbs.

So basically, just ignore health and labor regulations and you are good to go.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:29 PM on March 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


anigbrowl, I typically appreciate your grounded perspective on things, but I really think you're off base here. It's probably true that people, in general, should be more entrepreneurial, but people working their post-grad years doing construction at $5 an hour isn't going to allow them to pay off their debts, it isn't going to translate into full-time employment, it isn't going to give them health insurance, and it isn't going to allow them to have anything approaching the minimum standard of living that we would all agree characterizes a middle-class American life. And I don't know how anyone could even get a loan to start an independent business these days. I really doubt there is enough pent up, unrecognized demand out there to employ a reasonable chunk of the young unemployeds if only they would be more creative.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:29 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


I've moved way more times than I could easily count, and I expect I'll move many more times before I'm done. It has worked out pretty well for me; I've gotten a lot out of it and my baseline expectation is that I will routinely need to move to follow opportunities.

But even before the current economic malaise, most people didn't move very far. Yes, on average people move 11 or 12 times in their lifetime -- but most of those moves are across town. Here's a write-up on it from the Census, though irritatingly using old data.

The point being, we have a myth of mobility, about how Americans move all the time just like the brave settlers, etc. But in reality, most people stay close to home; the advice here to move to a low-unemployment state might be solid (especially if you have a safety net in terms of supportive family in case things don't work out), but is honestly not of much relevance to the majority of people who have always stayed close to home.
posted by Forktine at 5:31 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


You don't need qualifications if you're willing to learn and work under market rate in the short term in order to gain the necessary skills.

Hey, I have a PhD (in a science no less) but I'm doing under the table plumbing, carpentry, electrics, you name it. Everyone hustling just means that wages for the services that still have demand go down. That's great if you have income to spend but it's a recipe for poverty for everyone else... like me.

I'm in my thirties, thanks to my highly technical education I am both unemployable and have never been employed. I am down to my last $100 and going down... and nothing is going to change until assholes like Buchholz get bricks thrown at them every time they show their face on the street.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:48 PM on March 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


Remember when generation x was just a bunch of flannel wearing slackers?
Generation X was the slacker generation until they invented the World Wide Web. The slacker "threat" vanished when Netscape went public.
Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook.
Like the pundits who were blindsided by dot.com "slackers" , the article's author fails to comprehend Facebook. Remember what "young people" accomplished on Facebook in Tunisia, or Egypt, or Syria? It's not a game, it's social change. Ridicule at your peril.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 5:48 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh noes! Stable communities might form. Then what will we do?
posted by saulgoodman at 5:48 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


nothing is going to change until assholes like Buchholz get bricks thrown at them every time they show their face on the street

Are there any high-roller big shot MeFites who would like to pay people to do exactly this?
posted by MattMangels at 5:53 PM on March 15, 2012


opening doors at an apartment building requires a fucking bachelor's degree. In San Francisco, anyway.

Trust me, North Dakotans don't need doormen. And people can get jobs without a BA.

I knew a couple of people who moved to Alaska to work pipeline support jobs--one woman, who'd been a back up singer here in LA, tended bar, sang, and saved enough money to move back to LA and open a club, in the 90s. But for some people moving from a big city to the hinterlands is terrifying.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:02 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, you need a municipal license for that, that's a $300 fine.

I severely doubt said hippie had a license for such, in fact I'm virtually certain of it. And...

Sorry, the rate of employment in construction in the USA has dropped by half in the last five years (from 7.5% to 4%). If you don't have extensive experience in the field, absolutely nobody is hiring you, full stop.

...I think that you're missing the difference between an illustrative example and a prescription. It is never easy to get a job in construction if you are scrawny and have no skills, but as in many other fields you can wangle your way into it if you're enterprising,

Unhealthy behaviour like taking the sketchiest possible construction job, which is the only one that will hire you?

That's not wildly unhealthy. If you're being asked to do something that seems dangerous (asbestos removal springs to mind) then you need to be willing to walk and try something else. On the other hand, many taxing jobs can be performed quite safely by using reasonable common sense.

doing construction at $5 an hour isn't going to allow them to pay off their debts, it isn't going to translate into full-time employment, it isn't going to give them health insurance, and it isn't going to allow them to have anything approaching the minimum standard of living that we would all agree characterizes a middle-class American life

If you're willing to work hard, you don't stay the starting price for very long in any field. As for the standard of living for middle class life, that is part of the problem. What a single young person in rude health needs out of life is a dry bed, a secure place for their stuff, food in their stomach a few times a day, clean laundry, and a point of communication - nowadays that means cellphone and/or internet access, since one can't very well get hired or called by a potential client if one has no point of contact. You can get by and be happy and hirable without a whole lot of material comforts, and being busy will bring those comforts a great deal faster than holding out for some desired minimum in the mistaken belief that it's a right. I have spent plenty of time occupying that latter position, and it failed to yield much of anything.

Hey, I have a PhD (in a science no less) but I'm doing under the table plumbing, carpentry, electrics, you name it. Everyone hustling just means that wages for the services that still have demand go down. That's great if you have income to spend but it's a recipe for poverty for everyone else... like me.

I'm in my thirties, thanks to my highly technical education I am both unemployable and have never been employed.


Wait, you're complaining about wages going down but have never been employed? Or do you mean in your chosen field - and if the latter, are you telling me that you can't find any way to leverage that in any other area? I'm having severe difficulty believing that you have a science PhD but you have never been able to get any kind of job whatsoever.

I am down to my last $100 and going down... and nothing is going to change until assholes like Buchholz get bricks thrown at them every time they show their face on the street.

If you're down to your last $100 then you should GTFO off Metafilter and get back on Craigslist. I see nothing assholish about Buckholtz, except that he's offering general advice in an op-ed FHS) that people find somewhat difficult to apply. As an educated person you are in a better position than most to understand that the application of knowledge takes effort, but you're not willing to do it because the guy won't validate you? Bullshit. I happened to know who he was prior to this, because I have one of his books, which is a rather good introduction to economics. If people who sit around whining about economists on metafilter put only a quarter of their time into studying the subject instead of jerking off in violent revenge fantasies, then we'd be collectively a lot better off.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:03 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


-Fair point. But it is possible to line-up an out-of-state job before you make the big move.

Said by one person who had that work. It is also possible to make a basket from across the court in one try...but don't let the statistics on probability distract you.

-If you're willing to take some risk you may be pleasantly surprised by the payoff.

Or, and this is more likely given actual peer-reviewed data and not your own personal life-experience anecdotes, you may take a risk and be devastated financially and emotionally. Recently there have been seven applicants for every ONE job opening in the US. That is quite alot of risk-taking...

-If you're healthy and intelligent , though, chances are that you'll get by.

No, if you're healthy and intelligent, chances are you will be amongst the 6 people who didn't get the job.

-I'm rather risk-averse by nature but taken too far this attitude can lead one into a sunk cost fallacy.

A truer application of the sunk cost fallacy in this economic context would be wasting your time and resources moving to a new location to try to get a job when available economic data suggest that your chances of doing so are minimized. The opportunity cost of spinning your wheels for a "maybe job" is missing time with stuff that really matters on a human level - like friends and family. Do you really think people later in life regret not spending more time looking for work? Hint: They do not

I followed up opportunities I would otherwise have scorned and learned skills that proved to be very valuable in other contexts, sometimes many years later. This often came down to very banal practical considerations; I learned to cook because I had no money (I mean, no money whatsoever) so I decided to get a job in a kitchen because it would include food, saving me the hassle of trying to eat while waiting a week or two for my first paycheck.

If this sounds incompatible with ideas of worker solidarity and so forth, it is. It's not for everyone, I guess.


It does not in the least sound incompatible with ideas of worker solidarity - so that's a strange way to frame your own personal Horatio Alger story, which - while stirring - is really just a personal anecdote that doesn't really scale when dealing with millions of people competing for limited opportunities in a depressed economic climate.

I am awful at selling stuff and couldn't do this sort of thing to save my life.

Yet you fail to extend your acceptance of this fact to those people who couldn't be entrepreneurial to save their lives. Your commentary suggests that if only every person would just "stop being lazy" and "be an entrepreneur" their problems would be solved. As if becoming an entrepreneur was somehow not the product of life experience, upbringing, inherent skill, education and practice - but instead a magic switch that everyone has that they can simply throw. It's the same attitude that sells so many self-help finance books. It is a lie.

While you have every right to be proud of your life position and suggest strategies to those less fortunate, you are likely ignoring a host of factors external to 'hard work' that got you to where you are in life today. These factors could include things which may or may not apply like maleness, whiteness, history of privilege, strong family support, access to resources as a child both educational and emotional, or probably most importantly - pure random chance...just to name a few. I guarantee there is an alternate universe where you made the same choices and failed miserably due to circumstances beyond your control. There exists right now people who have tried to maximize every opportunity - but still can't get a leg up.

Your commentary trends pretty hard towards the Just World Fallacy...which you may want to examine.

Ultimately these sorts of comments and personal experience anecdotes completely miss the complexities of reality and the complexities of the contexts in which these issues are raised. To make a crass analogy it would sort of be like a 6'6" pro basketball player telling a 5'2" overweight dude that if he "just practices he can join the NBA!" There are SO many more factors at play. But we are so steeped in the meritocracy myth that when it comes to employment / work in the US many people tend to subscribe to a simpler Randian view of things...which is basically:

I did it why can't everybody
posted by jnnla at 6:06 PM on March 15, 2012 [48 favorites]


Bootstraps, people, bootstraps.
posted by maxwelton at 6:12 PM on March 15, 2012


I'm having severe difficulty believing that you have a science PhD but you have never been able to get any kind of job whatsoever.

Yeah, you don't really know what you're talking about, then. Ugh, I can't even really respond to this.

Anyway, I've had it up to HERE with this "as long as you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you'll be fine" rhetoric. You have no idea how much of a role luck plays. It plays the decisive role here. Telling people that they just need to take the illegal route of selling juice in Central Park or the under the table construction job which pays lower than minimum wage is just flat-out irresponsible.
posted by King Bee at 6:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


I see nothing assholish about Buckholtz, except that he's offering general advice in an op-ed FHS) that people find somewhat difficult to apply.

Can't I just resent him for contributing to the never-ending dirge that is unoriginal "Are the kids alright? The kids may not be alright." articles, so played out at this point that they're almost a satire of themselves?
posted by quincunx at 6:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, the ceiling is high for entrepreneurial adventures, but right now the floor is so low that it is lava. Times change. A few of my friends took risks when it wasn't so bad. They started businesses, farms, websites, invested. Some dropped out of college, and some did well for a few months. The ideas weren't bad. Problems happened. Times changed. The market wasn't buying, they couldn't manage it, employees were too costly, couldn't get venture capital, couldn't get the loan, market conditions changed. Many reasons, none precise. In the end, they ran out of money. All but one moved back home. Of course, they tried again, they tried again, they are mostly all back home.

But all this optimism was not without cost. Now, they can't get jobs. Their resume is full of forgotten start ups, failed bike shops, closed farms, lost food carts, web services overshadowed by tumblr. They all have resumes where their titles were President, CEO, Founder. What I am saying is, their resumes look like bullshit. Sure, great cover letters, interesting accomplishments, but where is the proof?

Now, of course, there is one of us that was successful, I wasn't so close to him, we hardly talk, but it doesn't matter. He can't hire any of us. He isn't successful enough. He can't afford hiring anyone. We can't risk working for free. He is in another world now. And drinking heavily, just as everyone fully employed apparently does in our age group.

If only someone could hire us, so the lament goes. If only, then someone else could shoulder the burden, the risk, the chance that we are going to be fucked once we run out of time. If only someone could hire us, that would buy us some time. Time to make our own life, our own job, our own income, to live, to try, to try again. But to try now, to try again for some of us, to try for the first time for the rest of us, to try when the risk is so high? To risk making all this worse? To fail once more? Why should we shoulder the burden? The economy is composed of employed and employers isn't it? Maybe it'll get better. We can be employed, not employers. If only we can just hold out, it should get better, shouldn't it? We can all get hired somewhere. Hired at some company, a company like the older generations talk about. Develop a career. Have a resume that isn't a trail of skulls. Then we can escape. We can escape before our parents begin to die.

Before we have no time left.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


Isn't young adults remaining with their baby boomer parents merely turnabout of fair play? There is little doubt that their parents voted for the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush administrations that gave all their kids future away to corporations.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


On the other hand, many taxing jobs can be performed quite safely by using reasonable common sense.
If only America's 14 million or so unemployed would stop complaining and use judicious common sense and prudence we could tackle tough jobs and pull ourselves out of this mess. Bootstraps young lads!

If people who sit around whining about economists on metafilter put only a quarter of their time into studying the subject instead of jerking off in violent revenge fantasies, then we'd be collectively a lot better off.

Yes! The world needs more economists and business people so that we may achieve total deregulatory capitalist utopia! Only then will the moochers and freeloaders be punished for their indolence, while the lords of capital can finally be left unjudged in their smug self-righteousness, well deserved for years of HARD WORK!
posted by jnnla at 6:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Economic activity is based on mutually profitable transactions; so if you see an an opportunity for someone to save $50 you can sell it to them for $25 and you both benefit.

Thank you so much for this extremely specific and practical advice.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


My sister has a PhD in a life sciences field. She was able to find a research job at a research institute in Vancouver, but it only paid $30k a year, which is not uncommon in her field. Instead, she moved overseas and got paid double ($60k is not a great wage, really). And then, after a couple of year, due to some issue with her research supervisor or whatever, she quit. It's been almost a year now, and she still doesn't have a job.

I suppose she could do something else, but, having done it a couple of times now, career changes are never very easy.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here in Europe this sentiment is interesting. If one is willing to take low, regular wage work there is much more of a willingness to get on a bus or airplane and go to a new country. I share this experience and have traveled to the continent for interviews several times. I also moved to London for a job and now am living outside of London while I talk to recruiters and plan my next move. I had to break the news to my girlfriend that I may have a job in less than four weeks and she took the news well. Frankly, social mobility really depends on the individual. I think for the most part, people who feel they are financially unable to make the move are missing out on a variety of programmes that are active to bring people to new places. I look for these and although it can be difficult to say "I would like to move to your town, but I need help to do it," it is also the only way to build a network before you arrive. The major point of social mobility is the understanding that one must be willing do anything to make a home in a place they want to live. I have only made living abroad work because I have been a fundraiser, a journalist and a lecturer. I think I might also become a life coach or a psychologist. The simple fact is that new employment requires us to assess our talents for the job. If you can't do that because you fear the economic consequences of making a decision I wonder if you have done the completely wrong thing.
posted by parmanparman at 6:24 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scraping by can seem like a curse. If you describe your successes to an employer, your curse can turn into inspiration.
posted by parmanparman at 6:27 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]




A truer application of the sunk cost fallacy in this economic context would be wasting your time and resources moving to a new location to try to get a job when available economic data suggest that your chances of doing so are minimized.

By definition, it isn't a sunk cost if you haven't spent it yet. As for the opportunity cost of moving, I live far away from my birth family but am very fond of my wife. Friendship, happy to say, is a renewable resource.

Yet you fail to extend your acceptance of this fact to those people who couldn't be entrepreneurial to save their lives. Your commentary suggests that if only every person would just "stop being lazy" and "be an entrepreneur" their problems would be solved. As if becoming an entrepreneur was somehow not the product of life experience, upbringing, inherent skill, education and practice - but instead a magic switch that everyone has that they can simply throw. It's the same attitude that sells so many self-help finance books. It is a lie.

It is not a lie, because I never said that it was a switch that you simply throw. It was something that I had to learn, and that was difficult to learn. I mentioned above that when I was younger I sought out kitchen work because I had completely run out of money and working in a kitchen meant that I was at least assured of a meal every day. I learned to be more entrepreneurial in fits and starts, largely goaded by necessity for basic survival. Nowhere have I said that it solves all your problems or that it's equally accessible to everyone; I've said that when push comes to shove, a young person of average ability can get by without very much, and that that substantially alters the risk calculus of moving away from home. I do not offer security or a happy ending, and I've acknowledged repeatedly that some people are not in a position to take such risks, because of health or family commitments or other disadvantages.

You are the one who is being dishonest here, both by mischaracterizing my argument and for the contention that taking a risk can't work for anyone. I don't feel any need to examine the just world fallacy, as I am well acquainted with what that is. But since we're going in for some intellectual condescension here I invite you to consider George Gerbner's work on cultivation theory, and to consider that an endless diet of doom and reflexive prognostications that 'we are fucked' of the kind which proliferate around here amounts to little more than manicheanism manifesting as learned helpessness.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:27 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't even imagine what young teachers are going through right now... when I got my job 11 years ago, I was brought into the school by a teacher who recommended me, and I seriously didn't even interview for it, a part-time position just developed into a full-time position, and now I have an ultra-secure, union job. I wish I could tell people that it's a great career choice, because I have fun every day and my house will be paid off before I'm 50.

The new teachers I know are hired as temps, basically, and then even when they have a 'real' teaching job they are in constant fear of layoffs, which happen every year. I know one teacher who has gotten a pink slip every year for 8 years, and has been re-hired at the beginning of the year. Summers are hell for her, when they should be relaxing, a perc of the job.

I will say, though, that if you are one of the very few, unique people who can teach special education, get your credential and you'll have a job, at least in southern California. Seriously, though, volunteer in a special ed classroom before you commit... it's tough or impossible if you're not cut out for it.

For the record, I live within 50 miles of where I grew up, and I work about 200 yards from where I had my first job pumping gas 4 the man. I can't imagine moving away from the sweet chaparral weather of SoCal. I like my snow an hour away, thanks.
posted by Huck500 at 6:32 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't wait for these clueless people to die out.
posted by polymodus at 6:37 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently millenials are also self-involved, which means they protest less.

There should be a fuck-yeah idiotic generation gap reporting tumblr. Totes random. Twitter and myspace and dubstep.
posted by codacorolla at 6:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I still don't get the point of moving to another state. Every street and strip-mall and high-rise in this country is identical to every other one.
posted by bleep at 6:40 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Every street and strip-mall and high-rise in this country is identical to every other one.

OK, but "downtown Ames, Iowa" is not even remotely close to "downtown Austin, TX". There is a difference, even in this world where Wal-Mart is everywhere.
posted by King Bee at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do not offer security or a happy ending, and I've acknowledged repeatedly that some people are not in a position to take such risks, because of health or family commitments or other disadvantages.

You are the one who is being dishonest here, both by mischaracterizing my argument and for the contention that taking a risk can't work for anyone.


So...what you are saying is that people you know or you yourself do not have any higher education, started your career without food security, continued to work as irregularly profitable street vendors or as illegally-underpaid construction workers, and after all that, you still regularly work for little or no pay for the experience and can not afford to stimulate the economy by paying for home repairs and your path, which most people can't undertake due to health problems or family circumstances outside of their control, hasn't even led you to security or some kind of happy ending? And you don't understand why others won't do this? Truly, what is your argument, if not that others should do this because it's somehow worthwhile?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


An aspect being missed is that it is a little late for many people living at home. It is a little late to develop an entrepreneurial spirit. I'm friends with very entrepreneurial people, but I also know those who aren't. The mood among the unemployed, at least from my drinking with them, the mood is impatience, frustration, struggle. The goal is now. The problem is that things must change now. A job now. The money is needed now.

After all, isn't that what everyone keeps telling us? You need to just work harder right now, and it'll be no time at all. You need to just take any job you can, right now. You need to move out, right now. You need to take this seriously, right now. Now in reality, and I think we all believe this, we could all be successful if we work hard at one something-- for four years or more. Just, like, give one thing our all. That thing we never did, we always hesitated about, that was too crazy. But it is a little late in the game for that. Some of us tried that, failed, some of us didn't, now we are being told that we must now, act now, pay now. Many of us deferred too long, now we are running out of time. We just want a job.

Nevertheless, I am coming to the conclusion that the only advice to give my friends is this: You are fucked either way, accept your situation is permanent, and begin working on something, anything, and stick to it. Now is the time for the band, the novel, the open source project, the study, the work. It won't work. It won't pay your way out of this situation. But it might. The Norse Gods went to battle, they all knew Ragnarok was inevitable, that they would lose, but they fought because maybe . . .
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Why does the nytimes allow such irresponsible articles to be published every other month? Can they please stop doing that? It is offensive and harmful to those involved.
posted by polymodus at 6:43 PM on March 15, 2012


When is an economic recovery not an economic recovery? When you’re among the hundreds of thousands of young people being left out of any revival in the jobs market.

The latest employment statistics underscore the dismal state of affairs for those between the ages of 15 and 24: The jobless rate last month was 14.7 per cent.


Note: Gary Mason is considered a right-of-centre writer in Canada
posted by KokuRyu at 6:46 PM on March 15, 2012


Anyway, I've had it up to HERE with this "as long as you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you'll be fine" rhetoric. You have no idea how much of a role luck plays. It plays the decisive role here. Telling people that they just need to take the illegal route of selling juice in Central Park or the under the table construction job which pays lower than minimum wage is just flat-out irresponsible.

I have an excellent idea of the role luck plays, thanks very much, and acknowledge mine on a regular basis. but luck won't come your way unless you leave yourself open to the possibility, much as one can't win the lottery without buying a ticket. Luck is payoff you get for a risk that works out. My approach is to take good things as luck and take responsibility for the bad things unless they are utterly unexpected and outside my control.

Yes! The world needs more economists and business people so that we may achieve total deregulatory capitalist utopia! Only then will the moochers and freeloaders be punished for their indolence, while the lords of capital can finally be left unjudged in their smug self-righteousness, well deserved for years of HARD WORK!

Fine jnnla, wallow in ignorance if that's what gets you off.

Thank you so much for this extremely specific and practical advice.

It's a general principle, it's up to you spot places where you can apply it and that's a skill that takes time to develop. What has worked for me, specifically, is offering assistance where I see an opportunity to do so. A lot of the time that gets rejected, or can even go unnoticed, but every so often is is noticed, valued, and that value manifests as a job offer or a reward of some sort. I don't mean this in the sense of declaring yourself a management consultant or anything, but in the most basic way of living. If you are walking down the street and see someone trying to start their car by pushing it, get behind the car and push with them. I did that once, the car started, and the guy got in and drove off without even noticing that I had helped him get his car rolling (he was pushing at the driver's door). But it had me in a good mood for the rest of the day all the same, and that good mood disposed me to say Yes to someone else's request for help later that day, and so on.

It's banal, but if you work to make your immediate environment better, even in small ways, then it pays off, psychologically as much as anything else. And every time you make a contribution the economy expands a tiny little bit, and the chances that something positive will come your way also increase a tiny little bit. My approach comes with no guarantees, but it makes dealing with problems much more bearable than insisting on their insolubility and the general hopelessness of any given situation.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:48 PM on March 15, 2012


anigbrowl, you're ignoring the fact that most young college grads today have significant student loan debt that is an additional strain on their resources.

I'm lucky enough to have graduated with a pretty minimal loan debt, and since graduating a year ago I moved out west for a summer job and then to the east coast for a job paying very, very little (which I'm currently at). I understand your 'a healthy young person without dependents needs little' philosophy and I have lived by it for the past 5 or 6 years and it's led to a lot of great times and interesting adventures BUT if I were paying $300-400/ month in student loan payments, spending a couple hundred dollars to move cross country (twice in the past year) and working for what essentially works out to $5 an hour if I do the wince-worthy math wouldn't be an option.

You've expressed the opinion that college isn't necessary (I think that's pretty clueless, but maybe you're right and there are fields out there that will hire someone with no degree and no experience...(?). However, whether it's necessary or not is irrelevant at this point to people who have already made that leap and taken on that debt. You can't return a college education.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:48 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


There should be a fuck-yeah idiotic generation gap reporting tumblr.

Now this right here is the kind of creative, entrepreneurial genius we all need more of.
posted by quincunx at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe, polymodus, I truly believe that they publish such articles so that I may practice my sophistry.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2012


I've said that when push comes to shove, a young person of average ability can get by without very much, and that that substantially alters the risk calculus of moving away from home. I do not offer security or a happy ending, and I've acknowledged repeatedly that some people are not in a position to take such risks, because of health or family commitments or other disadvantages.

Then we essentially agree...but you need to understand that you sound a lot like someone supporting the authors suggestion that the reason unemployment is so high is because "kids these days" are so lazy. I disagree with that simplistic assumption.

You are the one who is being dishonest here, both by mischaracterizing my argument and for the contention that taking a risk can't work for anyone

I think you are changing the goal-post here, because your argument throughout the course of this thread is the idea that what worked for you can work for everyone and certainly sounds like an indictment against unemployed persons for not doing what you did. My contention is that taking a risk can't work for everyone. For every successful risk taker sanctimoniously crowing about his rise to the top, there are a handful of risk-takers who never made it. So in that sense, I agree that taking a risk certainly can work for anyone. People should take risks. But you seem to be arguing that people aren't taking risks...which I don't find to be the case, and evidence bears this out. Indicting people for not moving away from home as non-risk takers makes this author look like a pedant asshole...and he largely is one.
posted by jnnla at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


My contention is that taking a risk can't work for everyone.

Yes, exactly.

Because if risk taking worked for everyone all the time, there wouldn't be an element of RISK to it. The reason it's RISKY is that most people fail. That's why it's called a risk in the first place! You can't honestly say "Take a risk, it'll be alright!" because by the very definition of the word, that's not true.

Taking risks works for very few people very, very rarely. That's why they're called RISKS.

This is not an indictment of whether or not it's worth taking said risks, just pointing out that the "Take a risk, it will work out!" line of thinking is logically inconsistent.
posted by sonika at 7:02 PM on March 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


So...what you are saying is that people you know or you yourself do not have any higher education, started your career without food security, continued to work as irregularly profitable street vendors or as illegally-underpaid construction workers, and after all that, you still regularly work for little or no pay for the experience and can not afford to stimulate the economy by paying for home repairs and your path, which most people can't undertake due to health problems or family circumstances outside of their control, hasn't even led you to security or some kind of happy ending?

I think you know perfectly well that that is not what I am saying. I have also made a good bit of money along the way, but I am trying not to emphasize money as the key to happiness, because it isn't. I have stimulated the economy quite a bit lately by paying contractors to work on the home we recently bought, and I have saved myself money by doing other parts of the work myself, which means I have been able to spend the money on materials instead. I rather enjoy physical work and find it quite satisfying to perform manual labor even though my primary activity right now is legal study. The manual and social skills that I learned when I was younger, poorer, and had to live on my wits have stood me in good stead since then, as did the lowly underpaid jobs that I took when I needed them and which enabled me to go on to other more rewarding kinds of work.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:07 PM on March 15, 2012


anigbrowl, what? College grads should eat one meal a day and go without health insurance, and it's astounding what they can accomplish! Not to mention how many health problems they accrue! Antibiotics, schmantibiotics! Birth control? Anti-depressants? Highly optional, if you don't mind living the life of a dumpster diving monk just to say you're "taking risks."

As a young person in good health who had to have unexpected surgery last fall, you're being ridiculous. In the last two years I've been applying to a constant stream of jobs outside my university (Starbucks, Target, you name it), and have gotten one callback, for a cafe with a verbally and sexually abusive boss with an exceedingly high turnover rate. I've been working since I was 16 at shitty retail/manual labor jobs, and yet.

I have a friend who moved out of her parents' house after high school and is doing well for herself... except that she can't afford health insurance, had to borrow $1000 from a friend when a frisbee broke her tooth, and dropped out of school because it was too expensive. She saved up for a year to move from Illinois to Wisconsin for school and spent almost all of it just trying to get by because she couldn't get a job anywhere in her city for well over six months. Anywhere.

Personally, I've spent a lot of time hustling for jobs-- as a research assistant, as a temp, doing psych experiments at the university for chump change. I paid my bills one month purely with money from psych experiments. But it fucking sucked, and why would I spend my time doing that (or move to North Dakota?! I'm from very near North Dakota and trust me, it is not an adventure) when I could move home, not worry myself sick or make myself sick, and be with my family? My life would be qualitatively AND quantitatively better at home, since the city is ready to puke me out the moment I'm not a student anymore.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


$60k is not a great wage, really

...in whatever country she was in, right? Because in Canada $60k would be freaking awesome; about $14-$20k above average
posted by Hoopo at 7:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


For Gen Y, moving back with their parents is a LOL
You would think young adults stuck living at home with their parents would be sending texts of despair to friends about their lot in life.

Think again. Most Gen Yers think it's gr8.

Three out of ten adults, ages 25 to 34, are living with their folks and of those 78 percent said they’re happy with it, according to a Pew Research survey released Thursday and titled “The Boomerang Generation: Feeling OK about Living with Mom and Dad.”

Even more surprising is that 77 percent of those still under their parent’s roof have high hopes for their economic futures.
posted by ericb at 7:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You would think young adults stuck living at home with their parents would be sending texts of despair to friends about their lot in life.

Think again. Most Gen Yers think it's gr8.


Well that sure is a misleading way of representing that study. Thanks for your input, MSNBC!
posted by inigo2 at 7:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't honestly say "Take a risk, it'll be alright!" because by the very definition of the word, that's not true.

Yeah, actually, I realize that my advice may sound like just that. "Pursue that crazy idea, it'll work out. It is only a matter of time." What I mean is: fail, fail again, fail better. Take the long walk. Don't expect it to work out, don't expect to make it, don't expect anything. It won't work out.

But the other option also won't. So, at least you'll be failing in a way more satisfyingly crushing than writing the fiftieth cover letter, looking wistful out the big wide windows of the Target you work at, gazing hopeful that this time, this time, you'll get that dream job and be out of this mess, this time you can stop worrying.

Give up. The end isn't nigh, it was yesterday. You just missed it. The future isn't here, it was sold. There aren't any more buses coming tonight. It is getting cold. The party is in an hour. Maybe there is another bus coming. Everyone is sitting at the bus stop. Rubbing their hands, checking the time on their phones. What do they know that you don't? Or are they all thinking this same way? What evidence do you have it is coming, except everyone sitting there, waiting?

The choice is much clearer when you are choosing between two failures, society's failure and your own. Once you accept the situation, it is easy. You can act now and fail on your own, or sit there and let society fail you. So long as you wait it out, wait for that job, that career, that opportunity, that burst of youthful energy re-igniting the economy. . . .

So long as you are waiting, you are missing the point. The bus isn't coming.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're down to your last $100 then you should GTFO off Metafilter and get back on Craigslist. I see nothing assholish about Buckholtz, except that he's offering general advice in an op-ed FHS) that people find somewhat difficult to apply. As an educated person you are in a better position than most to understand that the application of knowledge takes effort, but you're not willing to do it because the guy won't validate you? Bullshit. I happened to know who he was prior to this, because I have one of his books, which is a rather good introduction to economics. If people who sit around whining about economists on metafilter put only a quarter of their time into studying the subject instead of jerking off in violent revenge fantasies, then we'd be collectively a lot better off.

maybe you should have read that economics book a little more carefully. what I am saying is that in my current work:

a) because everywhere there are signs for people wiling to do home repair, i can charge very little.
b) i am taking money from people who do this professionally.
c) this is a race to the fucking bottom for wages.

And now lets see what's happening with national income in the US in the current recovery:
National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.

median pay fell in 2010 to its lowest level since 1999.

Saez and Piketty show that the vast majority’s average adjusted gross income, of which wages are just a part, was $29,840 in 2010. That was down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000.

Most shocking? The average income of the vast majority of taxpayers in 2010 was just a smidgen more than the $29,448 average way back in 1966.

The hustling that everyone is doing just lowers everyones wages.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


But the other option also won't. So, at least you'll be failing in a way more satisfyingly crushing than writing the fiftieth cover letter, looking wistful out the big wide windows of the Target you work at, gazing hopeful that this time, this time, you'll get that dream job and be out of this mess, this time you can stop worrying.

I totally believe that people should be happy and fulfilled and aim to improve in life and do great things.

I also totally believe that not everyone can live their dreams. It's just not possible. The world needs people to work in Target. The world needs janitors. No one ever says "I want to be a janitor when I grow up!" And yet. It's needed. The world needs people doing shit jobs. It's why the shit jobs exist - someone needs to do them.

So, from a greater good perspective - it's totally unrealistic to advise that everyone everywhere just up and go forth and live your dream! Not only will they fail, fail, and fail again - but our society, unfortunately, hinges on most people NOT living their dreams for the benefit of the very, very few who "make it."

Yes, go out and try to get your dream job. Keep writing those cover letters. But there's absolutely no shame in keeping the job at Target and being able to pay the rent on time while you do so.
posted by sonika at 7:32 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


anigbrowl, you're ignoring the fact that most young college grads today have significant student loan debt that is an additional strain on their resources.

I acknowledged that above, and while things like Income Based Repayment offer some relief I agree that burdensome student loans are a challenge.

You've expressed the opinion that college isn't necessary

Ah, no. I'm not saying that it's not necessary for anyone. I'm saying that it's not essential for everyone or for every job. In general I would encourage people to attend college if they can afford to do so, but there's no arguing with the fact that some people are able to excel through self-education. A lot of computer programmers, for example, are just obsessed with computers and learn to code on their own or with very minimal training. This isn't necessarily the norm, but nor is it vanishingly uncommon.

However, whether it's necessary or not is irrelevant at this point to people who have already made that leap and taken on that debt. You can't return a college education.

True, but it's easier to monetize and comes with all sorts of other benefits. Under different circumstances I would very happily have gone to college.

[jnnla:] I think you are changing the goal-post here, your argument throughout the course of this thread is the idea that what worked for you can work for everyone

I have repeatedly disavowed such a belief. I'm saying that it can work for quite a few people, as opposed to people saying we're doomed and it's hopeless. I have made several statements to the effect that it's not practical for everyone, and I'm getting tired of repeating myself.

[sonika:] Because if risk taking worked for everyone all the time, there wouldn't be an element of RISK to it. The reason it's RISKY is that most people fail. That's why it's called a risk in the first place! You can't honestly say "Take a risk, it'll be alright!" because by the very definition of the word, that's not true.

This is wrong. If you play Russian Roulette, there's a 5/6 chance that you'll survive, but since the consequence for the 1/6 risk of failure is death, that's very risky even though most people survive. Risk means there's a non-trivial chance of loss, not that failure is more probable than not. The loss can be total, as in Russian roulette, or just economic, or emotional (the risk that getting married will later result in a divorce) and so on.

So if you move in search of economic opportunity, and there's a 25% chance that you fail, well 25% is a significant risk. On the other hand, there's a 75% chance that you'll succeed. I don't understand where you get the idea that risk entails a <50% chance of success.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:33 PM on March 15, 2012


b) i am taking money from people who do this professionally.

If they can't compete with you, how can they justify their prices?

c) this is a race to the fucking bottom for wages.

Is that a reason not to work?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:34 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not saying it is wise. But there is presently little option to function even as a cog. If it is starve or starve. . . I preach starve on your own accord. You just might not. Otherwise keep waiting for the economy to turn.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, at least you'll be failing in a way more satisfyingly crushing than writing the fiftieth cover letter, looking wistful out the big wide windows of the Target you work at

Target doesn't have windows!
posted by hellojed at 7:36 PM on March 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


So if you move in search of economic opportunity, and there's a 25% chance that you fail, well 25% is a significant risk. On the other hand, there's a 75% chance that you'll succeed.

Where are you coming up with these numbers?

There are currently 7 applicants for every job opening in the US. A 6/7 chance of failure each time you apply is a pretty stacked deck. I don't have the numbers off hand, but I do know that more than half of small businesses fail. It's like regular roulette - you just might win big... but you probably won't.
posted by sonika at 7:38 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


You would think young adults stuck living at home with their parents would be sending texts of despair to friends about their lot in life.

Think again. Most Gen Yers think it's gr8.

Three out of ten adults, ages 25 to 34, are living with their folks and of those 78 percent said they’re happy with it, according to a Pew Research survey released Thursday and titled “The Boomerang Generation: Feeling OK about Living with Mom and Dad.”

Even more surprising is that 77 percent of those still under their parent’s roof have high hopes for their economic futures.


"Most 78% (satisfaction among home-dwellers) of 30% (percentage of homedwellers out of total Gen Yers)= 23% of Gen Yer's think living with parents is gr8 great acceptable under the circumstances.

Also did you know young people these days like to text???"

If this is the kind of writing that will get you a job, maybe msnbc will hire me.

LOL!!
posted by geegollygosh at 7:38 PM on March 15, 2012


a) because everywhere there are signs for people wiling to do home repair, i can charge very little.
b) i am taking money from people who do this professionally.
c) this is a race to the fucking bottom for wages.


I understand concepts of supply and demand perfectly well. What I am confused about is how you say you have a science PhD but are unemployable and have never been employed, ever. I would quite like to know what exactly you got this PhD in because it astonishes me that you are unable to parlay this into any kind of job at all, even if your particular field is obscure or oversupplied.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2012


Equally, my rhetoric can conclude to try to get the job. Don't worry about lost opportunities of entrepreneurship, you would have failed. But you just might get a job. But this conclusion I find riskier, there is little sign of recovery in sight. I'll take my chances in the desert. Follow me, I promise nothing.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could some of you guys go over to Ask and explain to this anonymous questioner that they should just find some initiative and gung-ho and move to North Dakota?
posted by escabeche at 7:43 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


[So if you move in search of economic opportunity, and there's a 25% chance that you fail, well 25% is a significant risk. On the other hand, there's a 75% chance that you'll succeed.]

Where are you coming up with these numbers?


It's just an example of how you can have risk without necessarily having a a probability of failure.

There are currently 7 applicants for every job opening in the US. A 6/7 chance of failure each time you apply is a pretty stacked deck. I don't have the numbers off hand, but I do know that more than half of small businesses fail. It's like regular roulette - you just might win big... but you probably won't.

Yes, but it's not like you only get to apply for one job and then it's done. The economy is adding about 250k jobs per month, and some of that unemployment is structural to boot (meaning that if your local economy has collapsed because an industry went overseas or became obsolete, then moving may be less risky than staying put).
posted by anigbrowl at 7:46 PM on March 15, 2012


There should be a fuck-yeah idiotic generation gap reporting tumblr.

And now there is.
posted by quincunx at 8:01 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


b) i am taking money from people who do this professionally.

If they can't compete with you, how can they justify their prices?


Plumbers can justify their prices because that's what it costs to do the job.

Some people are stupid. They do things like buy prescription drugs online.
Some people are also broke. They can't afford to hire a plumber to do a good job.

Unfortunately, people (being stupid) are willing, or (being broke) are forced to have the job done by people who don't know (or know, and don't care) that it costs X to do the job and so either end up taking advantage of somebody who does the job properly at a loss, or get ripped off by somebody who does a poor job for a profit.

Now there's nothing wrong with doing a job for cheap, as long as both parties understand that either the job isn't getting done properly or the person doing it isn't making what they need to cover their costs and make a profit.

I would quite like to know what exactly you got this PhD in because it astonishes me that you are unable to parlay this into any kind of job at all, even if your particular field is obscure or oversupplied.

Either you believe the person you're having a conversation with, or there's no reason to keep talking to them. I know it's easy to disbelieve something that rubs you as fundamentally wrong, but this is simply not cool. That situation without having people doubt that you don't have a choice.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:01 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

Interestingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was laid off from my latest non profit communications job 2 years ago after almost 20 years in the field. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then - one at Home Depot for $8.15 an hour and my current job, at a used bookstore for $9.50 an hour, which, in my town, is pretty good money despite the fact that we have one of the highest costs of living in NC. So there's the work if I want it or not and yes, I want it. Here in WNC, nobody else wants to hire me, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm almost 50 and there are lots and lots of 30somethings out there willing to do the same job as me but probably better and their health insurance will be cheaper. Not that they're making any money either, not here, where 45K is both amazingly big bucks AND a living wage.

What's that? I should move? But I own a house here and my grown kids have moved back in to save money and where the hell else are we going to go, even if, and it's a big if, I could sell this house for the 165K I paid for it? Not to mention that would mean leaving my 83 year old aunt with dementia behind, so. Hey look! From my anecdata, things are not all so peachy with the US economy! Go figure!
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:02 PM on March 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


We spent the day on Fort Myers Beach observing the spring break crowd partying and spending as if their resources are unlimited.

I spent every single spring break in undergrad researching or writing papers. The only time I have every travelled during spring break was in grad school - once to visit my mother, another time to go to a conference.

of course, during undergrad I didn't have enough money to live in a dormitory and lived at home instead. I still have never been farther south than Washington DC (went when I was 9).

Yeah, not the same crowd.
posted by jb at 8:06 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are you seriously saying that it's just wrong for people to want their society to have some sense of permanence and stability to it? Because, from what I've seen, the lack of it under the current arrangements are a big part of what's driving the personal dissatisfaction in people's everyday lives. Sure, to nomadic risk-takers, such a staid life might seem some kind of torture, but is it really all that hard to understand how, for many, many people, stability and structure is a psychologically good, desirable thing? It seems to me the height of cruelty to pursue economic priorities that impose on the masses of people the personal preferences and life ambitions of the few.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


I have to ask, why is it a problem that people aren't moving out of state? A whole lot of us like living near our families, our parents, our siblings, our nieces and nephews, our friends. I am not a 20something, by any stretch, but I don't understand why it is such a bad thing to stay in your hometown?

I'm in what I consider my hometown, even though I was born and lived for 8 years elsewhere, my husband and I have lived one county over in either direction and ended back. I love my little town, regardless of the economy.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, guys, you don't understand: I'm the guy who knows the one way everyone with this predicament can save themselves!
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:16 PM on March 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


No, guys, you don't understand: I'm the guy who knows the one way everyone with this predicament can save themselves!


Superficially witty, but on the other hand I thought the purpose of MetaFilter (and perhaps even society itself) is to discuss common issues and challenges, and hopefully come to a better understanding.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The purpose of MetaFilter is to post things people find interesting on the World Wide Web for others to see. Discussion isn't necessary or even the reason.
posted by hippybear at 8:31 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well all right then! I'll just shut up.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:36 PM on March 15, 2012


Another amusing rebuttal.
posted by quincunx at 8:43 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I used to know a hippie who would make money by buying fresh fruit and then wandering round a park selling fresh-squeezed juice drinks to people. I am awful at selling stuff and couldn't do this sort of thing to save my life. On the other hand, I learned construction by starting at $5/hour under the table despite weighing only 120 pounds and being all thumbs. Two decades later it saves me a lot of money because I can fix up my own home very well.
KokuRyu says it better than I do: it's about entrepeneurialism"


No. That's not entrepreneurship. What you are suggesting is BREAKING THE LAW and undercutting other workers in a race-to-the-bottom that collapses local wages.

On second thought, you do seem particularly well-suited to the current economy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:51 PM on March 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


All this turns American history on its head. We are a nation of movers and shakers. Pilgrims leapt onto leaky boats to get here.

Most those folks
In Jamestown boats
Already knew
Where tobacco grew
posted by Jehan at 8:55 PM on March 15, 2012


I honestly don't know what today's parents think their young children are going to do for a stable, middle-class living by the time they reach working age. The cradle-to-grave careers our parents had are gone, or going. Many formerly skilled jobs professions have been automated since I graduated from school in 1996, and I don't think we've seen anything yet on that front. The wages for the jobs that are left are being decimated by ferocious competition, both home and abroad. I mean, who knows what the future holds, but at this point it's hard to picture large-scale societal change that results in increased structural employment. Shit, even WWIII won't do it, 'cause it'll be all drones and nukes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:00 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


@saulgoodman

get lynched by those stable communities, probably
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:09 PM on March 15, 2012


sonika: I also totally believe that not everyone can live their dreams. It's just not possible. The world needs people to work in Target. The world needs janitors. No one ever says "I want to be a janitor when I grow up!" And yet. It's needed. The world needs people doing shit jobs. It's why the shit jobs exist - someone needs to do them.

I agree wholeheartedly with your core idea, but it spun off into a weird tangent in my mind, so I'm going to sound contrarian for a minute.

It's true that most people don't aspire to being a janitor, but I think there are actually a lot of people who don't necessarily feel drawn or called to a particular vocation. They get fulfillment in other sectors of their lives. It's where the "work to live vs. live to work" distinction comes in. There's a lot of people who are just fine with having something that makes enough to pay the bills and leaves enough time to spend with friends or family or pursuing hobbies and such. Certainly, as someone in her early 20s, I know a fair number of people who'd love a regular 9-5 job that gave them enough money to cover basic costs (cheap food, shared apartment, an occasional movie), for a few years while they pay off loans or figure out what they want to do with their lives.

But now, there aren't enough of those jobs to go around, and those jobs aren't as good as they used to be. Health insurance is no longer a basic assumption, and hasn't been for most of the last decade. Cost of living has risen faster than wages, and so now people are working two or two-and-a-half of these jobs, and the quality of life isn't there. That's as much an indictment of the system, in my mind, as the unemployment rate or the saturation of the job market for college degrees. It's wage slavery all the way down.
posted by kagredon at 9:12 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


also, and not entirely unrelated(?), but one thing I am noticing about economic conditions relative to my age bracket/"generation" is that they seem to be turning us into assholes
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:15 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally speaking, I've lived in terrible places and there's usually reasons people don't live there. One place I lived, I calculated I literally would've been better living on the beach in LA in both medical and mental health costs. That's to say nothing of doing a dangerous and dirty job. The only thing worse than being stuck in North Dakota, to my mind, is getting injured and not being able to leave North Dakota.

Not as dangerous as you might think, but yes, cold, tough and shitty work. But still I'm surprised that labour and trades jobs are going unfilled in ND. Is the pay terrible? People here were willing to work in Fort McMurray, and sometimes pay $1000/month for a room in a shared house, because the pay was worthwhile.

(Yes I know it's a different country, with free health care, and not perfectly comparable, but I wonder about the pay in ND)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:20 PM on March 15, 2012


Wow, this guy's gloss on The Grapes of Wrath was nothing short of breathtaking. Move over, Stanley Fish! I can't wait to see his insightful precis of Candide.
posted by speicus at 9:27 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


get lynched by those stable communities, probably

Ah, bigotry knows its own when it sees it, eh? Kidding. But really, 'stable community' != 'incestuous hick town.' Actually, all this "mobility" seems to be segregating neighborhoods more. Basically, progress toward integration started reversing in the 80s, around the time we started implementing the pro-business agenda under Reagan.

We've got the internet now and (if we could only afford it) relatively easy recreational travel to broaden our horizons. Why should we all schlep ourselves endlessly around the country chasing prestigious unpaid internships for the privilege of one day having no family or friends left at our death beds, nor any significant retirement savings to keep us fed while we're waiting to get there? The only people who benefit from the lack of coherence in American society are the people who exploit the lack of solidarity. Definitely not the average American.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


AMERICANS are supposed to be optimistic, even to the point of stupidity. Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump declares, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.” In Voltaire's “Candide,” the titular protagonist leaves his sheltered life in Westphalia for sun-kissed Holland. Along the way, his mentor Pangloss gets syphilis, but the merry travelers keep going.

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become pessimistic, gloomy Gusses. ...
posted by speicus at 9:43 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I never really thought of Americans as optimistic. Our brightest minds brought us such thing as Pragmatism, and Mutual Assured Destruction for heaven's sake. You trek through the snow, fighting hypothermia, not because you are assured that you will survive. You do it because there isn't another option, and you know it. You take one step, then another, then another. That is how you survive. Pessimism, defeatism, nihilism these are covers for a secret delusional optimism. That if you give up your ideals, then somehow, it'll be easier. It won't be. You can't give up your ideals, even if you try. You can't give up your dreams, they'll only haunt you. Watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, why does the Senator Paine try to kill himself? Realism is recognizing that to get things done you need to see clearly, and one of those things you need to come to terms with is that your dreams never die. But they may become undead. America is not an optimistic culture. It is one that, at its best, realizes the costs of life, and at its worst, pretends.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:57 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


We don't fight to just survive, it would be optimistic to imagine we could do only that. We fight for our ideas to survive, our ideals to survive. We struggle because to only live is not life at all. Americans are not optimistic, not in the least. There is no way to have a civil war, a revolutionary war, a cultural war, unless you are a realist. It is only possible to change things when you realize that your failure would be no worse than if you did not try at all.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:04 PM on March 15, 2012


I am 40 and, as I'm always telling people, you kids don't know how lucky we had it. I got my first "real" job through a friend of my mom's and haven't had to look back since. Most of my lack of progress has been due to my own lack of ambition.

Moreover, I was saddled with a "mere" $30k in student debt, due to an ill-conceived pursuit of a graduate degree.

In contrast, behind door number 2, we have well educated, enthusiastic college grads applying in droves to our tiny office for part time data entry jobs because, although they're living with parents or stacked like cordwood, they have to eat and make their student loan payments.

These are the people who weren't even stupid enough to charge their weekend pizza night on their credit card while they were in school, like I did. I screwed up in multiple ways. I changed my major about 4 times. I went to grad school out of state. I got a silly degree that isn't earning me money. I ran up a credit card travelling overseas. I spent way too long goofing off and delivering pizzas for a living. And STILL I did better than the 23 year olds that I know.

Since my success, such as it is, clearly isn't the result my entrepreneurial zest, verve and good old American know-how, I'm going to go with "Things have changed."
posted by small_ruminant at 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


as opposed to people saying we're doomed and it's hopeless.

@anigbrowl...

I don't see anyone here arguing that "we're doomed and it's hopeless" so I'm not sure where you're getting that or why you keep repeating it.

Yes, this discussion is a pile-on of the author in the NYT author in the FFP - but people are attacking him because he quite literally suggests that people should be concerned more about young people staying put in a depression rather than the very real , evidence-based issues of inequality and diminishing social mobility as represented by OWS sentiment.

That is an absurd claim and people here are calling that out.

Economic inequality and social mobility are extremely strongly correlated if not linked...so it makes sense that more young people have been staying put since the early 80s when wage stagnation started in earnest.

No one here is saying there is "no opportunity." Acknowledging the fact that there is a disturbing trend in this country where there is statistically less opportunity for the average person than other OECD countries does not make one a doomsayer - and suggesting that this has more to do with why young people are staying put than them being "lazy" or not hard workers is not akin to calling things "hopeless." So stop classifying the discussion as such. Knock it off.

If you'd rather have a discussion about how people should work hard to succeed in life I'm pretty sure no one here would disagree with you, but that's a different thread.
posted by jnnla at 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Forrent Gump (in the film, not in the book) isn't an optimist. He's the pu, the uncarved block, the state of emptiness which allows all that comes its way to pass by without affecting its basic nature.

This stands in direct contrast to Captain Dan's insistence that he has a destiny that was predetermined before his birth which he did not fulfill, and also in contrast to Jenny's insistence that her destiny is hers to shape through her own actions and will.

Of the three of them, only Forrest continues through life with success and grace, because he embodies unity of spirit and no matter what twists and turns life throws at him he simply IS.

Sorry, I've thought far too much about this movie at some point in my past. I promise, I've mostly gotten over it.
posted by hippybear at 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become pessimistic, gloomy Gusses. ...

Honestly, I think they just became less stupid than the rest of us.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:11 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to ask, why is it a problem that people aren't moving out of state? A whole lot of us like living near our families, our parents, our siblings, our nieces and nephews, our friends. I am not a 20something, by any stretch, but I don't understand why it is such a bad thing to stay in your hometown?

I'm with you. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to move around a lot, but it's not some inherently better way to live. Valuing one's family isn't a failing. It's just nice to be close to people you love.

And it's not like cities/towns/suburbs are fungible, and you'll be equally happy in a large city or a rural area, in the mountains or the plains, in the north or the south.
posted by jeather at 10:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


AMERICANS are supposed to be optimistic, even to the point of stupidity. Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump declares, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.” In Voltaire's “Candide,” the titular protagonist leaves his sheltered life in Westphalia for sun-kissed Holland. Along the way, his mentor Pangloss gets syphilis, but the merry travelers keep going.

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become pessimistic, gloomy Gusses. ...


This is nothing short of brilliant. Cheers to you.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:22 PM on March 15, 2012


Imagine that you live in a building. It's a fairly large building, although you've only seen the ward you were born in because most of the doors are locked. Everyone pretends the doors aren't locked, but whenever you try to open them you can't and someone hits you.

There is some kind of system governing life in the building. There are rules. You have no idea what the rules are, though, because any time you ask a question about the rules someone hits you.

You try to get by by emulating the behavior of the other, older people who've lived in the building longer than you have, and who seem to know what they're doing. Whenever you mess up and break a rule--which is all the time, because all you have to go by is blind trial and error--someone hits you.

Eventually you decide there really is no system here--just a bunch of jerks looking for excuses to hit someone--and you lock yourself in your bedroom.

This is an important part of my generation's mythology. Some people sneak out the windows, though, and we all cheer them on in the commons, but it's generally understood that you need a lot of luck to pull that off.
posted by byanyothername at 10:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


Forrest Gump (in the film, not in the book) isn't an optimist. He's the pu, the uncarved block, the state of emptiness which allows all that comes its way to pass by without affecting its basic nature.

Yes, and the heaps of punishment foisted on the characters in that movie who dare to be dissatisfied with the world is downright sadistic. After all, it's the best of all possible worlds! What possibility could there be for any kind of positive reform?

Sure, the arc of the universe bends towards justice, as someone or other once said, but only because certain people were brave enough to apply some serious leverage.
posted by speicus at 10:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't see anyone here arguing that "we're doomed and it's hopeless" so I'm not sure where you're getting that or why you keep repeating it.

I linked upthread to a google search for "we are fucked" on metafilter.com. It's a perennial trope in threads about the economy, politics, etc.

Economic inequality and social mobility are extremely strongly correlated if not linked...so it makes sense that more young people have been staying put since the early 80s when wage stagnation started in earnest.

Oh jesus christ on a crutch. Social mobility is not the same as geographic mobility.

No one here is saying there is "no opportunity." Acknowledging the fact that there is a disturbing trend in this country where there is statistically less opportunity for the average person than other OECD countries does not make one a doomsayer - and suggesting that this has more to do with why young people are staying put than them being "lazy" or not hard workers is not akin to calling things "hopeless." So stop classifying the discussion as such. Knock it off.

The article in the FPP says nothing about people being lazy, nor have I. You, however, have repeated this three times while attributing the idea to me. I have called you on it once already, and at this point I have nothing else to say to you.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:51 PM on March 15, 2012


I am a 20 something moving to another state next week. I'm moving back to my hometown, back in with my parents, after moving far out of state for work. That started out okay, then petered out to living check to check, turned into having no more checks coming.

This will be the third time in my twenties I will have moved back to a home town I actively dislike and hoped I would never have to go back to, a hometown that has no job prospects for me but at least has a bed for me to lay on.
posted by rainbowbullet at 11:05 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't know what today's parents think their young children are going to do for a stable, middle-class living by the time they reach working age. The cradle-to-grave careers our parents had are gone, or going. Many formerly skilled jobs professions have been automated since I graduated from school in 1996, and I don't think we've seen anything yet on that front.

At the same time, it can be incredibly hard to hire someone with even somewhat specialized skills. It feels like there is a growing disconnect between the skills we need whenever we post an open job, and what is actually available. I hear similar stories from people I know in overlapping industries -- they go through incredible struggles to make competent hires.

I genuinely don't know where the blame goes, and it is vividly clear how shitty it is to be in the position of applying and applying for jobs with no reward. But it is also clear that the mismatch is itself a drag on the economy -- if I can't make a hire, that's a solid wage going unpaid, and that work going undone. I'm not sure if schools should be doing better, or employers should be doing the kind of in-house training that they used to do, or what. But right now, things are pretty clearly not functioning well, even before you take into account the ridiculous structural issues like giving all the money to the rich, or wasting trillions invading Iraq.
posted by Forktine at 11:44 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the same time, it can be incredibly hard to hire someone with even somewhat specialized skills.

This is because no one wants to train people anymore. I have started my own business, which I have been running with mixed success for four years now, just because of that. No one wants to train.
posted by bswinburn at 11:53 PM on March 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Somehow this Business Week article about how marketers say 20s something are too broke to shop at the Gap is far more insightful than that piece of crap NY Times op-ed/advertisement for the dude's book/resume padding for his daughter(wife? someone with the same last name who is a student).
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:58 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I have an excellent idea of the role luck plays, thanks very much, and acknowledge mine on a regular basis. but luck won't come your way unless you leave yourself open to the possibility, much as one can't win the lottery without buying a ticket. Luck is payoff you get for a risk that works out. My approach is to take good things as luck and take responsibility for the bad things unless they are utterly unexpected and outside my control."

Yes, you need a ticket to win the lottery.

No, winning the lottery is not a viable career plan, even if you buy a lot of tickets. Telling people that you won the lottery because you bought a ticket does imply that you think buying a ticket is a good idea for other people to pursue, and does sound like a bit of hindsight bias.

I moved across the country without having a job, and then got one. It turned out to be a terrible job, but I'm still probably better off here doing something at least moderately unrelated to my education, with no clear career path, than I would have been if I had stayed at home and dealt with the terrible economy there. I have other friends who have moved out here and then had to move back, and there's no real difference in the level of effort we've put toward our respective jobs — if anything, they've out-hustled me.

To use another analogy, telling someone that moving is a good idea is a lot like telling someone that getting a journalism degree is a good idea: Sure, yeah, but do it only if you really want to, and realize that most people aren't going to make it.

(As a side note, the author describing Grapes of Wrath as an entrepreneurial road trip is like describing The Scarlet Letter as a romance about the importance of commitment.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:38 AM on March 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


anigbrowl: I have an excellent idea of the role luck plays, thanks very much, and acknowledge mine on a regular basis. but luck won't come your way unless you leave yourself open to the possibility, much as one can't win the lottery without buying a ticket.

No, I don't think you do.

I don't mean "luck" as in "wow, it was lucky that my taking a risk paid off", I mean it more like luck plays the decisive role in things like

1. where you are born
2. what color your skin is
3. whether your parent(s) to whom you are born are abusive
4. whether you have a stable household growing up
5. whether you have a genetic predisposition to develop certain mental and physical disorders

These things play an enormous role in how your life is going to turn out. For instance, you are lucky to have been born in 1971 instead of 1991. Had you been born in 1991, you would be a victim of this terrible economy while trying to get a job in your early 20s with no experience.

Do you acknowledge this on a regular basis?
posted by King Bee at 5:48 AM on March 16, 2012 [16 favorites]


Here is how luck helped me. I had a job I hated and paid terribly and the boss was a terrible racist. But, I was new to Baltimore, girlfriend was in grad school and I needed work, full stop. Every day I took the same bus at the same time and, this being Baltimore, it was generally late almost every day. Thus, I got to meet a fellow on the bus named Jared who worked at Johns Hopkins University at a pretty plum job. I eventually got fired from the job I hated (blessing not even in disguise) and was unemployed for about a year until I got a call from Jared one day saying that his coworker quit and did I want a job? That to me is pure luck. Just happenstance that I met him on the bus and now I work Johns Hopkins making a certainly decent salary as well as having good health insurance. I did nothing to bootstrap myself into this job except talk about soccer with a dude on the bus.
posted by josher71 at 6:00 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're in a situation where there are one million jobs being chased by 7 million people, all the go-getting and optimism and can-do attitude won't get all seven million people a job.

So telling people who are in that situation that they just have to think outside the box and do x, y or z to get a job, when everybody else is getting the same advice and already doing x, y and z isn't helpful.

Not even as personal advice, where such anecdotes are usually more offensive than helpful ( it doesn't help anybody looking for a job in a depression to hear they should try smarter, not harder), but especially not as general advice for a whole generation.

The 1929 depression got solved through masses and masses of government investment: WPA, various infrastructure projects, not to mention a little thing called WWII; while the post-war depression was also staved off by government intervention, things like the GI bill and such, not by everybody imitating Horatio Alger.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:01 AM on March 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I agree wholeheartedly with your core idea, but it spun off into a weird tangent in my mind, so I'm going to sound contrarian for a minute.

Not to quote your entire comment, but I actually agree completely with everything you said, so you either misread me or I did a crap job of making my own point. (Probably the latter.)
posted by sonika at 6:18 AM on March 16, 2012


Yes, and the heaps of punishment foisted on the characters in that movie who dare to be dissatisfied with the world is downright sadistic. After all, it's the best of all possible worlds! What possibility could there be for any kind of positive reform?

Sure, the arc of the universe bends towards justice, as someone or other once said, but only because certain people were brave enough to apply some serious leverage.


Not quite sure when Cap'n Dan or Jenny were working to change the world in matters involving social justice in any way, but perhaps you saw a different movie than I did.

posted by hippybear at 6:22 AM on March 16, 2012


I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to move around a lot, but it's not some inherently better way to live. Valuing one's family isn't a failing. It's just nice to be close to people you love.

The moving around a lot as a good thing is certainly something relatively unique to Americans. I've lived in Germany and Iceland and my husband is Portuguese - so those are the only other countries I can claim any kind of "expert" status on, but they don't move around nearly as much. In Iceland, it's common to live with your parents until you're married. (And even after, in some cases.)

In Portugal, this goes to the next level. You stay in the same town with your family long after you have kids of your own. My brother in law lives in the same building with his parents and they have meals together every single day. His mother takes his daughter to school in the mornings. Family is just a part of your everyday life. The idea of moving away from your family just for the hell of it makes about as much sense as moving away from your pancreas. Which isn't to say that it's not done at all - obviously my husband did, but he came to the US for school and just ended up staying. Moving somewhere on a whim? Pretty much unheard of.

(Which I get isn't the point of this conversation, it's about moving somewhere for a job - but in any case, the idea that you *need* to move is one that doesn't exist in other places the same way that it does here.)
posted by sonika at 6:31 AM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The article in the FPP says nothing about people being lazy, nor have I.

Well, you never said people were lazy directly.

"No, but it is true that someone else can find something to do by being willing to try something different. "

"If you're down to your last $100 then you should GTFO off Metafilter and get back on Craigslist."

"Fine jnnla, wallow in ignorance if that's what gets you off."

"There's no shortage of things that need to be done, and often you can profitably focus on individual tasks."

You just absolutely refused to believe that people who were unemployed or underemployed were working hard at getting employed.

I've been unemployed quite a bit the last 4 years (twice because I quit, twice because the job went away). My mother-in-law took to searching the ads on Craigslist for me. Never-mind that I did that every day.In her mind, she was helping. She was very pleasant about how she was helping. She also put out feelers in her network of business contacts, and other genuinely helpful things. But, man every time I got one of those Craigslist ads forwarded, it felt like a slap in the face. I mean, it was like a daily reminder that I was a failure. And this was being put forth in a positive and a supportive way. The exact opposite of how you're coming across. You know what does nobody ANY good? Being told by somebody who has absolutely no information about their personal situation that they need to "get back on Craigslist" (you know, that one job he hasn't applied for that popped up at 8:45 PM is the ticket) or that they're wallowing "in ignorance" or that even though they can't find anybody willing to give them a job "there's no shortage of things that need to be done."

I think most of us realize that you're trying to help, but just like my MIL sending me things from Craigslist, you're not. Unlike her, you not helping in a completely antagonistic way.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:38 AM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]



Okay so this thread has devolved into a generational debate about how shitty the job market is and how we boomers/gen x-ers have screwed it up for the rest of y'all.

Let's acknowledge something right here. The times they have a'changed. NO ONE has employment stability, jobs are not easy to get.

Each time I have landed a job, my ratio of applications to interviews have been about 1:100. In other words, when I was unemployed in the incredibly shitty market, I had to find 100 jobs to apply for just to get an interview. Luckily, I interview very well, so my interview to offer ratio is about 1:4.

No only did I apply for jobs in the telecommunications field, I applied for analyst jobs, secretarial jobs, administrative jobs, overseas English teaching jobs, pretty much anything I was remotely qualified or even over-qualified to do. Also, for every single application, I changed my resume to fit the requirements. Because why be over-qualified on paper?

Finding work is a full-time job in itself. The process is frustrating and exhausting, but what were my options? Not working?

I'll admit, my experience isn't data, and my skills and qualifications are not the same as someone who just graduated from college with little or no experience. But I also have the burden of being at the worst possible age to land a new job.

I don't think that kids are lazy, I don't think that the job market is great somewhere else, but I do think that facing facts and finding a way to be the 1 in 7 applicants who actually lands the job is important.

I'm seeing a lot of defeatist attitudes on this thread, "I got educated and in debt and no one came to graduation with a job offer for me, therefore I got screwed!"

Time to look at yourself and assess the reasons. Yes, living in a small town and restricting yourself to finding work there will reduce your options. Cast the net wider, even 100 miles wider, you'll increase your chances.

You don't have to move to North Dakota and work in an oil field, but if that's an option, it's best not to discount it out of hand because it's hard, dirty, dangerous, in an industry that's the devil or any of that stuff. Research first, then discount. "You know I looked into it and based upon what I discovered it's not right for me." I can respect that.

This is a different world, things are not as easy for kids as they were for me at that same age. However, that's no reason to give up. You just have to work harder.

I'll cop to it, I lived with my folks until I was 25. I was working full-time, going to school full-time and I paid real rent to my parents because as they pointed out, "There's no free ride in the real world."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:44 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't even comment on the Grapes of Wrath part, because so many people have already addressed it better than the baffled and furious incoherence I could come out with. But even without that, this is just bizarre:
In the mid-’70s, back when every high school kid longed for his driver’s license and a chance to hit the road and find freedom, Bruce Springsteen wrote his brilliant, exciting album “Born to Run.” A generation later, as kids began to hunker down, Mr. Springsteen wrote his depressing, dead-end dirge, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” We need to reward and encourage forward movement, not slouching. That may sound harsh, but do we really want to turn into a country where young Americans can’t even recognize the courage of Tom Joad?
'The Ghost of Tom Joad' is full of 'forward movement'. Hell, the first lines are about men walking along railroad tracks, "going someplace, there's no going back". Granted it's impoverished and hopeless movement - "no home, no job, no peace, no rest" - but that's why it's deliberately echoing The Grapes of Wrath, rather than The Self-Help Manual To Becoming A Millionaire In Five Easy Steps. The whole album is supposed to be echoing the Joads' journey and the Great Depression. That's its title. It's not exactly subtle, is it?

But also, I think he's equally missing the point with Born to Run. I didn't grow up in the 70s, and I didn't grow up in America, but I did grow up in a small town where we all dreamed of hitting the road and finding freedom. I had Springsteen lyrics written earnestly on the back of my geography folder. I was not the only one. In maths, me and the friend I sat next to used to take turns saving lyrics to the memory in each other's graphical calculators (like passing notes, but detection-free!) and Springsteen turned up there too, because even if you aren't growing up in New Jersey in 1975, that kind of thing speaks straight to your heart when you're in a small town and you're sixteen. "We learnt more from a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learnt in school" - damn right! "It's a town full of losers, and I'm pulling out of here to win" - it's like he's singing about us!

Except the thing is, and it's enough of a thing that it was obvious to us at the time as well, songs like 'Born to Run' aren't actually about getting out of your small town and hitting the road in search of freedom and adventure. They're about wanting to get out of your small town, which is not the same thing. You know how the characters in the songs feel, because you feel it too - "we've gotta get out while we're young"! - but you also know that they're not going anywhere. Those cars they're driving aren't for racing off in to the sunset; they're "suicide machines" for racing each other in circles.

Partly, you know this because it's sort of obvious, even in the most optimistically teenage-dream songs - even in 'Born to Run', the actual getting out part is going to be done "someday, girl, I don't know when". Partly, you know this because lots of the other songs make it explicitly clear. In 'The River', the teenage couple end up trading in all their dreams of adventure and escape for an unsatisfactory marriage and a shaky job in a failing economy; in 'Glory Days', all the popular high school kids are left with when they grow up is bars, divorces, and "boring stories of glory days"; in 'Racing in the Street', the kids in 'Born to Run' are still sinking all their dreams of escape and intensity into their cars now that they're older - "they come home from work and wash up, and then go racing in the streets" - even though some of the men "just give up living, and start dying little by little, piece by piece", and the narrator's girlfriend is crying herself to sleep, "all her pretty dreams are torn". At the end of the song he's still planning to drive off into the sunset with her, but you know it's never going to happen. Because it never was.

Mostly, though, you know they're not getting out of their claustrophobic dead-end home towns because you live in one yourself, and you know that so many people don't. And that's before the economy was at the stage it's at today. I have lots of friends in their late 20s and early 30s still living with their parents in the town where we grew up, and still looking back on school as the best days of their lives because the future is just bleak and awful. They're in poorly-paid jobs they don't much like, or they're out of work and competing for jobs that aren't even there, and they can't afford to move out because house prices are still ridiculous and the rental market has gone insane.

Everyone I know in that situation still talks about getting out and moving away, but now they do it in a wistful if-I-win-the-lottery sense, because it doesn't even seem like an option any more. I mean, what are they going to do? Get in their cars and drive away from the place where all their friends and family live, to... where? Why on earth would they expect it to be better somewhere else? It's not like the affordable housing market and the thriving manufacturing sector our parents grew up with just moved to the town next door.

It's not the town and the parents' house that people really want to leave behind. It's the situation. And the situation isn't something you can just drive away from, no matter how good your car is, no matter how bright your dreams were. Even Bruce Springsteen's teenage characters knew that, really. I truly don't understand how it's even possible for someone to look at the economic climate of today, look at the situation people are really in, and assume that all people need to do is get off Facebook.
posted by Catseye at 6:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [32 favorites]


"I got educated and in debt and no one came to graduation with a job offer for me, therefore I got screwed!"

I'm sorry to say that this sentence is undermining you.
posted by josher71 at 6:50 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


These kinds of articles get us talking about whether or not current conditions are the fault of the working class.

THEY ARE NOT.

We need to remember that they are the fault of the capitalist class and the oligarchy that strangles our country.

These articles are a distraction. Do not be distracted, do not be lured into this debate. The more frequently that lies are repeated, the more likely they are to be believed. Only the politicians and the bankers and the businessmen are to be blamed, never the 25 year old living in mom's basement.
posted by desjardins at 6:51 AM on March 16, 2012 [41 favorites]


I've lived in Germany and Iceland and my husband is Portuguese - so those are the only other countries I can claim any kind of "expert" status on, but they don't move around nearly as much.

Exactly, and then everyone gets a thousand or so Euros of Reise Geld every year ("vacation money") from the state to pay them to go on vacations to stimulate the European economy and to promote healthy cross-cultural understanding. And almost nobody ever locks their doors. Even in big cities like Frankfurt. And kids run outside by themselves to play with other kids at ages as young as five. (At least, up until about a decade or so ago, when I last spent time their this was still true. The contrast to our own current culture of constant mistrust and dread was astonishing to me.)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on March 16, 2012


I love how many people in this thread are all "If you jobless kids would just try, you would get jobs!" You completely buy into the asinine thesis of the article that the "problem" with kids today is just that they're not trying. That those under 24 are seeing a 16% unemployment rate is just because they're not trying. If they stopped being so defeatist, they'd all have jobs! It's not the economy, stupid - they're just lazy!
posted by rtha at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


They're about wanting to get out of your small town, which is not the same thing. You know how the characters in the songs feel, because you feel it too - "we've gotta get out while we're young"! - but you also know that they're not going anywhere.

You also know the reasons they want out are largely economic and because there's nothing the rest of the world deems "important" happening in their hometown and no real prospects for being part of anything others would deem "important."
posted by saulgoodman at 6:55 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]



I don't think that kids are lazy, I don't think that the job market is great somewhere else, but I do think that facing facts and finding a way to be the 1 in 7 applicants who actually lands the job is important.


By definition, that's impossible for 86% of the people. I'd just like to point that out. For 86% of people looking for jobs, there isn't one.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:56 AM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


My organization is continuing its hiring freeze.

I wonder if "being entrepreneurial" includes using a blow-torch?
posted by jb at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


but I do think that facing facts and finding a way to be the 1 in 7 applicants who actually lands the job is important.

Do you have evidence that any of them are not doing this?
posted by rtha at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2012


If people just worked harder, job openings would appear.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:09 AM on March 16, 2012


If people just worked harder, job openings would appear.

Actually, it's more the opposite, but... I... Yeah, I can't not bite. *sigh*
posted by verb at 7:14 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing a lot of defeatist attitudes on this thread, "I got educated and in debt and no one came to graduation with a job offer for me, therefore I got screwed!"

You're misreading. What's been presented is "I got educated and I'm in debt and I'd really like to find a job and pay off of these loans and I apply all the time, but as you know, finding a job is a full time job in and of itself and in the meantime I'm working [x job] outside of my field for $8/hr, but it's not a viable long term strategy and this sucks."

I haven't read a single comment in this thread from someone who simply *expected* a job offer. I've read numerous comments from people saying that they've tried very hard to find jobs, but that there aren't any, and that for each job that DOES exist, they apply and get turned down.

The assertion that the people in this thread who are un(der)employed are in that situation because they aren't *looking* for work or that they're angry because they feel *entitled* to a job is just flat out misreading.
posted by sonika at 7:16 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Time to look at yourself and assess the reasons. Yes, living in a small town and restricting yourself to finding work there will reduce your options. Cast the net wider, even 100 miles wider, you'll increase your chances.

Seriously, there are a lot of young people out of work in big cities too. I applied for my first set of "real" jobs two years ago in two big cities and got zero hits. Zero. I ended up changing my address to a friend's place in the city I actually wanted to move to and still got zero hits. The job I have now is great and I love it, but it was completely serendipitous and connected entirely to my alumna status. I've been to North Dakota a couple of times, in the summer. I've camped there. Not only is my skill set not at all applicable, I can't drive and don't own a car, and wouldn't be able to deal well with the cold. The infrastructure isn't there and frankly, I wouldn't really want to be a young woman living with no friends and no support network in a pre-fab bunker in the oilfields.

I also don't really get why not moving to another state is a bad thing in the first place. I did; it's where I went to college. Rent is cheaper, but the weather is worse. I'm not sure why this gets credited as better than staying in the city I grew up in and loved. In general, the people I know who moved home after college were able to wait it out for better jobs and opportunities rather than having to take the first food service job they got, which I don't think is a bad thing. (But that trick works better if your parents were already affluent enough to live in a decent part of the country, so there's that.) The big cities already have lots of applicants and interns. They don't really need the kids from those small towns a hundred miles away.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:19 AM on March 16, 2012


This is a different world, things are not as easy for kids as they were for me at that same age. However, that's no reason to give up. You just have to work harder.

You do understand that not only is this magical thinking, but that every time you repeat this line (which has been disproven literally dozens of times just in this thread), that you are cementing the conviction of the casual reader that you have absolutely no grasp of the present economic reality, and as such are completely unqualified to be sermonizing on it, yes?
posted by Mayor West at 7:23 AM on March 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


this thread has devolved into a generational debate

Well I hope not, because I have become convinced that the article was in fact written by daughter Victoria, and father Todd's name is only there to make sure it gets published.

Since the award-winning-playwright daughter is currently a (first year?) student at Cambridge, this might explain the well-off-the-mark understanding of The Grapes of Wrath. Perhaps this is how they're currently teaching American culture at Cambridge.

So instead of uniting against the inheritance of privilege and the mainstreaming of brainless social analyses, we'd be once again engaging in intergenerational finger-pointing in a free-fact zone.

And no one wants that.

--------------------------------
Born to Run. I didn't grow up in the 70s

Well I did, and I still despise Born to Run and the whole Springsteen canon of sentimentalized protest pastiche. But that's a different conversation. Please don't get distracted by dragging the pop star into this.

 
posted by Herodios at 7:33 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Portugal, this goes to the next level. You stay in the same town with your family long after you have kids of your own. My brother in law lives in the same building with his parents and they have meals together every single day. His mother takes his daughter to school in the mornings. Family is just a part of your everyday life. The idea of moving away from your family just for the hell of it makes about as much sense as moving away from your pancreas. Which isn't to say that it's not done at all - obviously my husband did, but he came to the US for school and just ended up staying. Moving somewhere on a whim? Pretty much unheard of.

(Which I get isn't the point of this conversation, it's about moving somewhere for a job - but in any case, the idea that you *need* to move is one that doesn't exist in other places the same way that it does here.)


Portugal is actually a fascinating example. Yes, within Portugal people tend to live exactly as you have described, close to family and not moving around all that often. But at the same time, Portugal has been sending out waves of emmigrants since about the fifteenth century, something that is continuing today:
One in 10 graduates now leaves the country, leading many to talking about Portugal's "lost generation".

"This is the biggest emigration wave since the 1960s," says Filipa Pinho of the government's newly established Emigration Observatory.
Portugal's migration flows are super complex, with over the decades and centuries waves of people leaving, waves of immigration, and then more emigration. But if you look at the census data, people in the US tend to stay close to home, too. Of my coworkers, only three of us are far from our families; all of the others routinely drive across to town to eat with their parents and/or adult children. What's different is one, how rural Portugal has remained (so there have been less internal flows to Lisboa, Porto, and other cities), and two, how much the national mythology of movement towards opportunity dominates thinking in the US.

For someone like myself, with lots of social capital and an ok safety net (no matter how bad I fuck up, I know I can always live in with any of a half dozen family members, for example), moving in search of opportunities can pay off. Moving to a new place isn't scary, and at this point my professional network covers a lot of locations, so I probably wouldn't be moving blind. But looking at friends and coworkers who have stayed in this place their entire lives, I can also see the advantages of staying embedded within such a deep and intricate web of social connections. They are connected in ways I never will be, and that provides both safety and opportunity.
posted by Forktine at 7:37 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


(As a side note, the author describing Grapes of Wrath as an entrepreneurial road trip is like describing The Scarlet Letter as a romance about the importance of commitment.)

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is an uplifting short story about embracing small-town values in the modern age, and the incredible things a small group of people can accomplish when they choose to work together.
posted by griphus at 7:41 AM on March 16, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot of defeatist attitudes on this thread, "I got educated and in debt and no one came to graduation with a job offer for me, therefore I got screwed!"

Time to look at yourself and assess the reasons.


At it's core, I would suggest that the reason for this "defeatist" attitude is not to be found within the individual.

Look, I could talk about how political elites (in coordination with their wealthy benefactors) in the US made a conscious decision to undermine the labor movement, to push (yeah, I said it...push) manufacturing overseas, and...in the current crisis...keep inflation expectations low to the detriment of the working class. I could explain this, link to it, talk on end but let's be honest. You wouldn't be convinced.

How could you be? Your own life is the only example you need. If you could do it, so could anyone. And right there is a perfect example of another phenomena:
In an academic version of a Depression-era Frank Capra movie, Keltner and co-authors of an article called “Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm,” published this week in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, argue that “upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self….”

In other words, rich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,”
said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
You see, it's not us who are defeated. It is you who got lucky but whose vision is still clouded by a self-image sold to you about America. You aren't going to buy what I show you as reality because, instead, you bought..."[t]he whole idea of the 1950s, picket-fence, Ozzie and Harriet American Dream [that] was a lie, a well-told tale conjured up by Madison Avenue to sell vacuum cleaners and automobiles."

But the truth is that the American Dream wasn't for everyone, not then and definitely not now. And the reality is present, right in your own anecdote.
Each time I have landed a job, my ratio of applications to interviews have been about 1:100.
That's 99 real people. You don't owe me anything, but if you could please explain to me why it not obvious to you that there, in your own story, that you don't see that there simply aren't enough jobs and that this "defeatism" isn't generational but a product of deliberate choices made by the powerful?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 7:45 AM on March 16, 2012 [20 favorites]


Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"

Maybe that's the lottery anigbrowl was referring to.
posted by desjardins at 8:17 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny: Interstingly enough, I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

I'm 24, graduated a few years ago, been unemployed since. In that time, I have applied for over 600 different jobs. I received a refusal from 11 of them (eight by post, two by phone, one in person). The rest didn't even bother to respond. This has been everything from working in supermarkets to IT jobs to think tank stuff (mostly the former, as that's where openings are). You know why nobody will hire me? They'd much rather hire you (and other people with lots of experience), and you're out looking for the same jobs. This means that I (and other young people with plenty of education, but little or no experience) have a really hard time finding work of any sort at all.

The jobs are there; they're just hiring recent redundancies to fill them, not recent graduates.
posted by Dysk at 8:41 AM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm nearly 50 and I was booted out of my cradle to grave phone company job 4 years ago. I have managed to apply for and land 2 jobs since then. So there's work if you want it.

I think you mean, "there's work if you already have 20+ years of experience under your belt."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm 24, graduated a few years ago, been unemployed since. In that time, I have applied for over 600 different jobs. I received a refusal from 11 of them (eight by post, two by phone, one in person). The rest didn't even bother to respond. This has been everything from working in supermarkets to IT jobs to think tank stuff (mostly the former, as that's where openings are).

Have you applied to the Army or the Navy? That is the default recourse in my family.
posted by bukvich at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2012


It's certainly interesting to be told that when our leaders are unable to provide a climate of employment stability, our response as citizens should be to 'just keep moving'.

On the other hand, our leaders are happy to make excuses for 'job creators' refusal to actually do so because of a climate of 'uncertainty' about their tax cuts.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some people have a problem with the Army and Navy - either they are not suited to it, or it is not suited to them. Just as people shouldn't become teachers only because it seems a job that will pay the bills for a few years, I think it should be expected that if you are signing up to defend your country in armed combat - possibly leading to loss of life - it should not be done unless it is really, really very much the career path you wish to take.
posted by mippy at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2012


bukvich, I have many many reasons why I can't. I'm not a citizen of the country I live in, there are medical reasons why I'd be prohibited from serving, oh and I'm a pacifist while we're at it - not that it matters, given the rest.
posted by Dysk at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2012


The armed forces is a fantastic resource for fit young men with few-to-none mental or physical disorders, an above-average constitution, and the complete willingness to sacrifice the above-mentioned lack of physical and mental disorders, if necessary. Otherwise, it's such a stupendously bad idea I can't believe it's even being suggested.
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


The homeless and unemployment rate for veterans is staggering. Soldiers don't get paid shit while they're in. So at best you're just delaying your problems for four years.
posted by desjardins at 9:15 AM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, but that is four years! I am not liking the idea of military recruitment as a solution to unemployment. Seems a little too much like a Heinlein novel. A good number of my graduating class work for the government, and, well, I would be less bothered by that if the make-work jobs weren't all under some branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2012


And I would be lying if I didn't say that I considered this after my first hundred employment attempts. Three years of training, and guaranteed employment? At 42k to start? Hard to pass up when everything is looking like you'll be living at home again. Weird times. Although, looking at it again, I think those opportunities have now all closed. So, wow, I hope the graduating class of 2012 have a plan for themselves.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:30 AM on March 16, 2012


And almost nobody ever locks their doors.

People in my girlfriend's (US) hometown do this, too. Why? What is the upside? There are some very big potential downsides; where is the benefit?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2012


The same benefit of not wearing a helmet when you go walking, I suppose. Convenience.
Comfort. Not having your kids accidentally lock themselves out all the time. You can call your neighbor and have them go in and feed your cat if you're running late.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:51 AM on March 16, 2012


I don't find it convenient to be robbed or murdered so I still find it odd as well. It's easy, same with seatbelts.
posted by agregoli at 9:56 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saves you from fumbling for your keys when you're carrying groceries.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2012


Do you lock your room when you have roommates? I don't, because I trust them.

How many robberies and non-domestic-violence murders have happened in your girlfriend's town? In my town it was almost zero. Preparing for them would have been in par with preparing for a tornado in a mountain town.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:01 AM on March 16, 2012


Have you applied to the Army or the Navy? That is the default recourse in my family.

Been keeping up with the news recently? All the branches are in the process of downsizing.
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on March 16, 2012


Not only that, but I loved coming home to find friends cooking dinner in the kitchen or asleep on the couch. It felt very community-ish.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it isn't like locking your door is all that effective. If someone is motivated, it is easy to enter a house. Lock bumping is simple, a rock is simpler. Locking your door, at most, interrupts the whims of drunks and hooligans. Which are certainly a species of person more common than imagined. But if not a lot of people pass by the place, then, well, why not? I've lived in both towns and cities where their habit went either way. Some towns everyone locked, another, no one did, one city everyone did, another, no one cared to.

Of course, when there are people who are motivated to enter, then well, there are more effective things to do than lock your door: bars on windows, cameras, wrought iron screen doors, a mean dog . . .
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:03 AM on March 16, 2012


Have you applied to the Army or the Navy? That is the default recourse in my family.
posted by bukvich at 11:44 AM on March 16 [+] [!]


I applied to the Army (reserve) when I was 18.

Due to my myopia, I was declared medically unfit to serve.

I wear very thick glasses.
posted by jb at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2012


> So at best you're just delaying your problems for four years.

People make careers out of the armed forces. And far less than half the people have jobs where they have to shoot at people. They will train you in IT, in nursing, in management logistics, in electrical and plumbing and construction. You have absolutely nothing to lose talking to a recruiter.

Getting shot, getting maimed, getting PTSD sucks. A lot of people calculate the risk and decide to take it. Many of my relatives have done so. Getting stuck in a submarine when the relief ship isn't outfitted to go yet and there isn't anything onboard to eat except peanut butter and saltines for two weeks really fucking sucks. The recruiters will not tell you about shit like this.

It is an option that might be worth considering.
posted by bukvich at 10:11 AM on March 16, 2012


Dig deeper into the pages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data and it becomes apparent that while the job market is slowly improving for most Americans, it’s moving in the opposite direction for Gulf War II vets (defined by the BLS as those on active duty since 2001). The youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24, had a 30.4 percent jobless rate in October, way up from 18.4 percent a year earlier. Non-veterans of the same age improved, to 15.3 percent from 16.9 percent. For some groups, the numbers can look a good deal worse: for black veterans aged 18-24, the unemployment rate is a striking 48 percent. link
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


bukvich: It [the armed forces] is an option that might be worth considering.

For those for whom it actually is an option. Again, though, there's no way they can take on all the unemployed youth, especially given the budgetary constraints they're operating within these days...
posted by Dysk at 10:23 AM on March 16, 2012


The article in the FPP says nothing about people being lazy, nor have I

Says nothing about people being lazy?! Wait...did you read the same article we all did?

He says that "young Americans...have become risk-averse and sedentary" that they have a "stuck-at-home mentality" and that they are "literally going nowhere" that they have become "Generation Why Bother" and that they "don’t strive as hard to find new jobs" and that because they "believe that luck counts more than effort" they are creating a society "not likely to thrive."

The definition of lazy is "characterized by lack of effort or activity."

You clearly agree with the authors position, and to me his position clearly indicates that he thinks that young people today are lazy. Do you not think that he is trying to say that young Americans these days are characterized by lack of effort or activity?

Or...you know what...screw it...this thread is starting to feel like debating with a table.
posted by jnnla at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2012


Getting shot, getting maimed, getting PTSD sucks. [...] It is an option that might be worth considering.

Call me crazy, but the former really invalidates the latter on that one.

I wouldn't consider a "career" wherein I had the distinct possibility of getting killed at worst and PTSD at *best* to be a solution to unemployment. Mind you, I'm not saying this as a sentiment against the military - if that's something you want to do. My point being I don't think asking people who are merely looking for a *job* to sign up to potentially go off and get shot at is a good solution to unemployment.
posted by sonika at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


By definition, that's impossible for 86% of the people. I'd just like to point that out. For 86% of people looking for jobs, there isn't one.

I think this math explains the attitude.

If seven people only apply to one job, then this might be true, but your odds increase if you apply to multiple jobs. If 7 people apply to 7 jobs, then they all get a job. (Obviously this is facile, but not as facile as your argument.)

Also, what exactly is the alternative? Not continuing to find work? Not doing anything?

If you are waiting for the economy to change back to where it was just 5 years ago you might as well give up now, because it won't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:18 AM on March 16, 2012


Not quite sure when Cap'n Dan or Jenny were working to change the world in matters involving social justice in any way, but perhaps you saw a different movie than I did.

Yeah, isn't it funny how a movie that pivots around the Vietnam War and the 60s hippie movement doesn't talk about social justice, like, at all?

If this seems like a massive derail, I think Buchholz turns The Grapes of Wrath into Forrest Gump by making it about just a bunch of shitty stuff that just happens to Tom Joad, as opposed to stuff that people did.
posted by speicus at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, what exactly is the alternative? Not continuing to find work? Not doing anything?

It's a shitty alternative to be aure, and it's exactly the one that many, many long-term unemployed folks have found themselves in.

You imply that These Kids are applying for one job and then giving up. I see no such evidence.
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2012


I'm afraid that discussing the "availability of jobs" is kind of a red-herring to the why-don't-people-move-out-of-the-house question.

Yes, in theory someone could look for a job outside their local area. But -- moving takes a lot of money. Consider:

* The cost of the moving itself (renting a U-haul, shipping things if that's what you're doing, etc.)
* The cost of a new home (often involving 2 or 3 months' rent up front, if you're renting, or a good deal more if you're buying)
* The cost of furniture if you need any
* The cost of a car if there's no public transporation where you're going

And that's just getting yourself TO the new area. For someone who doesn't have a job yet, that's an awfully big and expensive prospect. Hell, even here in AskMe I've seen people recommend that you need a few thousand dollars if you want to relocate; well, a smaller number of people have that few thousand.

So yeah, moving to another state may increase your chances at getting a job, but you can't expect them to live on a park bench until that job comes through.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have absolutely nothing to lose talking to a recruiter.

Yes you do, recruiters lie. (Btw, I'm married to an ex-submariner, but he was lucky enough to have served in peacetime and got out when the economy was booming.)
posted by desjardins at 11:41 AM on March 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


wherein I had the distinct possibility of getting killed at worst and PTSD at *best* to be a solution to unemployment

Not to mention all the rapes (by your own damn side) if you're female.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


If seven people only apply to one job, then this might be true, but your odds increase if you apply to multiple jobs. If 7 people apply to 7 jobs, then they all get a job. (Obviously this is facile, but not as facile as your argument.)

Also, what exactly is the alternative? Not continuing to find work? Not doing anything?

If you are waiting for the economy to change back to where it was just 5 years ago you might as well give up now, because it won't.


Zero people are arguing for this. There are zero people in this thread advocating giving up and doing nothing because the economy sucks. What people are saying, and you're not hearing, is simply that it's really not easy and it's exhausting. People are doing it anyway. People are working hard at finding work... but it's HARD WORK. As you acknowledge.

You're hearing the complaints, but not acknowledging that the "this sucks" attitude comes out of doing exactly what you're suggesting: applying to every job available in hopes that something will work out. No one has said "Y'know, fuck it, I'm just going to sit on this couch until the economy improves."

I get the feeling that you're projecting this to feel like there are people speaking from the "other side" of this issue and if your ideals are for hard work and perseverance, the "other side" must be giving up. Except that there is no other side. There's just a lot of people trying their best. And one of the things that they're trying their best to do in this thread is to show you that it's not as easy as you portray and your facile idea of "JUST WORK HARDER!" doesn't work when you're already working as hard as you can.
posted by sonika at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think this math explains the attitude.

If seven people only apply to one job, then this might be true, but your odds increase if you apply to multiple jobs. If 7 people apply to 7 jobs, then they all get a job.


You can't be fucking serious. The problem is that 49 people are applying to those 7 jobs. The problem here isn't other people's "attitude", it's that you are (willfully) misunderstanding the situation.
posted by kagredon at 12:08 PM on March 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


There was meant to be a question mark on that parenthetical "(willfully?)"
posted by kagredon at 12:09 PM on March 16, 2012


If 7 people apply to 7 jobs, then they all get a job.

Unless say 2 of those places don't like any of the candidates and hire no one.
posted by King Bee at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If seven people only apply to one job, then this might be true, but your odds increase if you apply to multiple jobs. If 7 people apply to 7 jobs, then they all get a job. (Obviously this is facile, but not as facile as your argument.)

Oh I see, you're misunderstanding the statistic. O.k. the phrasing is a little odd. The data isn't gathered by asking employers "how many people applied for your job?" The way they got the seven people applying to every job is by comparing the number of job openings to the number of people in the available labor pool.

So, for every 7 job, there were 49 people looking for a job. All 49people could apply for all 7 jobs, and 42 of them would not get hired.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not only that, but I loved coming home to find friends cooking dinner in the kitchen or asleep on the couch.

See, I would just think someone was a giant weirdo if I came home and found them sleeping on my couch or making dinner uninvited.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:34 PM on March 16, 2012


Unless say 2 of those places don't like any of the candidates and hire no one.

Man, I am so tired of this. Does anyone know how long, on average, it takes to fill a position? At least a half dozen times I've been rejected for a position, then over three(!) months later, that position is still being advertised. If the time-to-hire average has raised at all in the last few years, then that right there is significant piece of the puzzle. Who can afford that lag time? How many friends can support a guest on their couch that long?
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:48 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, in poking around, I realized that the 7:1 number was pretty old. Found some new data, and as of Jan. the ratio had actually improved to just shy of 4:1. Here's a clear explanation, with a graph going back to 2000. For a sobering snapshot, this chart has a side by side comparison of unemployed to job openings sorted by industry.

It's not a matter of moving out of state. It's not a matter of changing fields, or being willing to settle for crappy jobs. It's not a matter of finding a way to rework your resume every time. It's not a matter of helpful hint #14 from "impressing people during interviews." It's not a matter of sending out more resumes. The one thing that matters is that for 3 out of ever 4 people looking for a job, it just doesn't exist.

Period.

That's not pessimism, that's not a crappy attitude. That's math.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:53 PM on March 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I foolishly read through all of these comments before making my own, only to realize this was in SOUTH Dakota.
posted by bastionofsanity at 1:10 PM on March 16, 2012


Also, what exactly is the alternative? Not continuing to find work? Not doing anything?

Living with your parents or (in my case) my in-laws until I have enough financial stability to move out on my own.

I have a masters' degree. I have a full-time job. I could afford an apartment with my partner, albeit a very poor-quality one. However, my job is a one-year temporary contract - my partner is currently a student, and I have no idea if I will be employed in nine months. So we don't move out, no matter how much we want to.

And we really, really, really want to. Does anyone think that we enjoy living in a cramped space, with 1/2 of our belongings in storage? We don't have our own space, we don't have our own furniture -- heck, we weren't even consulted as to our preferences for the height of the new toilets my inlaws bought. (Too high for me). We had to get a lock on our bedroom door for basic privacy - and we are in our 30s.

I love my inlaws - and sometimes I love living with them. They do have a lovely house, even if our room is the least lovely due to most of our belongings and work materials being crammed into one room. And, ironically enough, we will most probably be living with my mother in a few years if we get full-time, permanent work in the city where we now live, because she needs the help (financially, physically) and my family is very multi-generational. But that would be different - it would be our home, chosen and arranged to suit the needs of all of us.
posted by jb at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


See, I would just think someone was a giant weirdo if I came home and found them sleeping on my couch or making dinner uninvited.

Yup. It's a different way of living, but don't knock it til you've tried it.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2012


Ruthless Bunny: Okay so this thread has devolved into a generational debate about how shitty the job market is and how we boomers/gen x-ers have screwed it up for the rest of y'all.

What could you have possibly expected? Did you read the op-ed before you posted it? The author attacks an entire generation of people for everything from using the word "random" to not buying enough bicycles.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:44 PM on March 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


There was a MetaTalk discussion about diversity here on mefi recently. A few of us stated we were occasionally disturbed by ageism and knee-jerk antiboomerism that we experience on the site.

Yikes, this facile article and accompanying thread is an embarrassment. Sad to say, it goes a long way to explaining some of the boomer-hate. I apologize for the unflattering and stupid stereotyping that today's young would-be workers are being saddled with. It's truly a terrible time to be looking for work when you have no experience under your belt. I don't know what else much to say but that I am sorry and hang in there. Ruthless Bunny, anigrowl - you are no doubt sincerely trying to offer your best advice and the benefit of your own experience, but your good intentions - as I assume them to be - are coming across as judgmental, hectoring, and smug. I doubt that's your intent.

People, let's be kind to each other. Let's not have generational finger pointing, it's ugly from any perspective. I am watching many contemporaries who worked hard for a lifetime being kicked to the curb in what they thought would be the last decade or so before they segued into the "do not go gentle" years. The money they worked to save has been plundered. And some may never find meaningful work again, being judged as too old or "too experienced." Employer thinking is that a former corporate manager won't be a happy fit on a lawn crew or the Denny's breakfast shift - although many I know would be happy to get those jobs or any work at all.

Things pretty much suck all around for the ordinary Joe of any age. Let's try to look out for each other and lend a hand to those we can. Most of us are just a sick relative or a corporate bastard's whim away from tough times ourselves.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:41 PM on March 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


I wonder how this has affected familial relationships. We had a brief interlude where we moved back in with a parent. It Did Not Go Well and affects our relationship with them to this day. Out of our four parents (they're all divorced), the only one I think I could live with sans nervous breakdown is my mother-in-law. His sisters are out of the question, and mine are questionable. We're probably down to aunts and uncles, none of which live nearby.
posted by desjardins at 4:10 PM on March 16, 2012




Oops, already posted.
posted by desjardins at 4:16 PM on March 16, 2012


This is because no one wants to train people anymore.

This, this, this! I see way too many ads for "entry-level" positions that require 2-3 years of experience. Apparently the new definition of entry level is "Entry level for OUR COMPANY, but you must have 3 years of experience doing exactly the same job with all the same responsibilities somewhere else."
posted by SisterHavana at 4:29 PM on March 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


There has been a local company posting the same internship for months and months. It's the only thing that comes up on a search for my particular field within 50 miles, but it's only for students, so I can't apply.
posted by desjardins at 4:38 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to clarify my comments because I think anigbrowl is rather patronizing about the whole situation for young people. For anyone who is stuck somewhere without a way out it can feel like the whole world is weighing on you. I remember when I moved to Eugene, Oregon with an eye to start a public radio show. I made good headway but I also discovered that the local economy was producing .40 of a job for every new resident. In a word, Oregon is adversarial in its tenacity to wrench the weird from the interesting. I could not imagine going back to Oregon now. I feel like I made a lucky escape after college and then when I went back in 2009 it was just a realization of everything I knew about the north of England, which is what Oregon really is most like (Portland is Manchester, except Manchester is freakishly smaller).

So there in a nutshell is what social mobility really does. I learned a lot about what I already knew. I went from there to getting a job that was supposed to take me to Sudan. Now I live in England. I have gone through a lot of money and a lot of stress. My hair is mostly gray and I am 32. I can jump kick five feet in the air. But, the grass is greener where? Exactly. It's just something you want to forget about. Because the sex is great and the recruiters realize I am more skilled and more affordable than half the people here. My competition is not here. I am the only American in England now.
posted by parmanparman at 6:17 PM on March 16, 2012


People in my girlfriend's (US) hometown do this, too. Why? What is the upside? There are some very big potential downsides; where is the benefit?

Feeling like and having it demonstrated to you day after day that you don't live among a society of crooks and thieves, maybe? I don't know. In my mom's case, and the case of the rest of my family in Germany when I used to visit them more frequently, it used to just be so normal that they never really questioned it. The basic thinking might be something like: why would we become accommodating in our way of life at such a basic social level to people who victimize us? Mostly, they just seemed to feel so safe they considered it ridiculous to worry about those rare potential downsides. But then, as someone's usually quick to point out, Germany's population is relatively culturally "homogeneous" (though there are donor kebab stands on every corner).

In the US, if you say you had something stolen, the first words out of anyone's mouth are usually "Did you leave your doors unlocked?" as if to say: "You were probably asking for it anyway." We get screwed by bankers and everyone blames the poor. I think in general we just tend to put more of the social burden for crimes on the victims than some countries do. (Not that there aren't far worse countries out there when it comes to things like that.)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:07 PM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


wherein I had the distinct possibility of getting killed at worst and PTSD at *best* to be a solution to unemployment

Not to mention all the rapes


Oh, what the ever-living FUCK is this? I am not advocating everyone run down to the recruiting station, not least because of the already-mentioned fact that all the services are drawing down; however, I enlisted in the Army as a a 28-year-old woman and during the 6 years of my contract I experienced no rapes and no PTSD and I did not deploy to a hostile environment once. I got out in 2009 with sufficient experience to land a job in a related field. My parents were both career military (in different fields than my own) and each survived their 20+ years. So yes, the possibility of getting killed at worst is very much something a person should weigh before going that route, but your best case scenario is so ludicrously off the mark as to be offensive.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 10:16 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If the time-to-hire average has raised at all in the last few years, then that right there is significant piece of the puzzle. Who can afford that lag time? How many friends can support a guest on their couch that long?"

That was the topic of a Pat Morrison show (relatively) recently, where she talked with recruiters and HR managers saying, basically, that businesses are lowballing wages, over-specifying qualifications and under training when hiring. These were recruiters saying that, basically, employers thinking that they're in a buyer's market has led them to be selective to an extent that is compromising even their ability to make profits.

I can also say that the job I got let go from three years ago is still filled by an ever rotating cast of temps. That place had a bevy of deeply fucked structural problems — I feel like after having several bad jobs (and seeing my friends and classmates in the same) that I'm more willing to work at a place that allows me to do social good even if the trade off is that I'm less able to relocate.
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 PM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


. So yes, the possibility of getting killed at worst is very much something a person should weigh before going that route, but your best case scenario is so ludicrously off the mark as to be offensive.

I apologize. My intent wasn't to belittle the military or anyone in it, but rather to point out that enlisting has certain specific risks that need to be considered and isn't going to be the right choice for most people who are simply looking for a job.
posted by sonika at 5:42 AM on March 17, 2012


however, I enlisted in the Army as a a 28-year-old woman and during the 6 years of my contract I experienced no rapes and no PTSD and I did not deploy to a hostile environment once.

Lucky you, but a lot of people haven't had your good experience. To suggest that it isn't something for someone to consider before they go in, is wrong. Personally, I have a sample set of only two. Of that sample set, 100% were, at a minimum, severely sexually harassed. Both were deployed to what I, a civilian, consider a hostile environment (Iraq & Afganistan). I don't know if they were raped.

The department of veterans affairs, meanwhile, released an independent study estimating that one in three women had experience of military sexual trauma while on active service.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:01 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My guess is that there is also a lot of male rape that goes on that people don't even talk about for obvious reasons.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2012


Feeling like and having it demonstrated to you day after day that you don't live among a society of crooks and thieves, maybe?

It doesn't take a whole society, just a few people, and no matter what society you live in, those people are around.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:03 PM on March 17, 2012


My experience of living in small, isolate communities where people don't lock their doors unless they're going away for several days (and some not even then) suggests that while those people might still be around, they aren't walking into anyone's houses and taking their stuff. As has been pointed out, defeating a locked front door is pretty easy, if you want to get in.
posted by Dysk at 7:28 PM on March 17, 2012


In Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, a young go-getter leaves her parents' house and moves to the big city in search of job opportunities not available in her hometown.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:20 AM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hal Mumkin: "Oh, what the ever-living FUCK is this? I am not advocating everyone run down to the recruiting station, not least because of the already-mentioned fact that all the services are drawing down; however, I enlisted in the Army as a a 28-year-old woman and during the 6 years of my contract I experienced no rapes and no PTSD and I did not deploy to a hostile environment once."

But what if you *had* been deployed to a hostile environment? Also, the military isn't for everyone. I know that I would probably not come out of it emotionally unscathed. So the a generic, "Oh, you can't find a job? Why not join the military?" argument is, for some (including people like me) something of a reckless suggestion.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:05 AM on March 19, 2012


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