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Young adults need more opportunities

Burgandy Brockman, Opinion Writer
November 7, 2013
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

Young adults are arguably more unemployed today than any other generation since the ‘50s.

“The International Labor Organization is calling it ‘A Generation at Risk,’ and there has been talk about a second ‘Lost Generation,’” said Child and Youth Finance International in a blog on the Huffington Post website.

If it sounds intense, that’s because it is.

“Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working,” the Opportunity Nation’s coalition’s report said.

Though many are quick to call this generation lazy or spoiled, the biggest cause is a difficult economy. It’s expensive to be in school and the debt can be crippling. If an education isn’t going to supply a job in this already overcrowded market, why bother? The jobless can’t always be labeled as lazy.

“There’s a whole pool of talent that is motivated, loyal and hardworking,” said Charlie Mangiardi, who works with nonprofit, young adult career trainer Year Up, according to Huffington Post writer Philip Elliott. “They just can’t get through an employer’s door.”

Thank goodness someone is standing up for this so-called hopeless generation.

There are countless personal reasons why each individual might struggle to either find a job or be enrolled in school, but a majority boil down to money.

For the jobless, it could be a matter of not being able to afford decent interview clothes or the fact that working adults are hanging on to their jobs for dear life, even past the age of typical retirement because they can’t afford to live if they don’t work.

How can they be called lazy when it’s not their fault they have to wait until the past two generations are physically unable to work?

For those not in school, loans are hard to come by, and if employment isn’t secured right after school, they can be nearly impossible to pay back. Jumping head first into schooling without a financial plan in place would be foolish.

For most young adults, planning their finances through the end of the month is unpredictable enough, much less planning for years ahead.

Can we really point fingers and lay blame on one specific generation for the difficulties that everyone faces?

Older adults are hanging on to the jobs they have, not giving the younger generation much space to grow and flourish.

Overall, this is an economic problem, not an attitude one.

According to Opportunity Nation’s report, median household incomes declined between 2011 and 2013 nationwide from approximately $51,050 to $48,958, Wall Street Journal writer Neil Shah said.

“Measures of poverty and income inequality increased over this period, even as the nation’s unemployment rate fell,” Shah said.

Even as unemployment rates begin to correct themselves, our poverty level continuously increases.

Opportunity Nation is an organization that developed a tool of measurement called the Opportunity Score, a generalized look at economic mobility found by digging into 16 economic and demographic indicators, according to Shah.

America’s overall opportunity score for 2013 is 50.9 and in 2012 it was 50, Shah said. Opportunity scores can vary by state as well, so where an individual lives can have a great impact on his or her opportunities.

The state with the highest opportunity score was Vermont with 65.9 and the state with the lowest score was Nevada with 37.9, according to Shah.

Wisconsin scored a 57.8.

We can’t blame a generation for the problems they’re facing if they’re trying their best. Times are tough and the opportunities available to young adults aren’t improving.