Millennials v Baby Boomers: Unemployment

I have, like many, chosen to go to college, leave my home, and sell my soul in terms of student debt. Why? So I can succeed; financially, that is. The unemployment rate is much smaller with a college degree than simply a high school diploma, and college is a step to a higher paying career. In the end, it’ll be worth my time and money.

Maybe.

Here are the facts: on average, college graduates are less likely to be unemployed. But millennials, the people recently graduated or will be soon, have a 12.8% unemployment rate. If college is how to get a good job, then why are so many millennials unemployed?

One reason is the current state of the job market. In the past, older generations would retire and pass their jobs along. Now, baby boomers, our older generation, are not. The retirement age increased from 65 to 66, and is currently growing to 67. Millennials do not get employed because there are fewer available employment opportunities.

If college is how to get a good job, then why are so many millennials unemployed?

The effects of the baby boomer phenomenon are clearly seen throughout the world, especially in the United States economy. Because so many millennials are unemployed (or underemployed in minimum wage jobs), our spending habits are different than our parents and grandparents were. Millennials wait longer to make big purchases, like houses or automobiles, until much later in life. Similarly, millennials tend to get married at older ages so diamond sales are down. The dreams and goals of financial success have changed for this generation of Americans, which will inevitably affect others.

The difference in millennial spending changes more than just the economy; baby boomers are threatened. The social security program relies on active workers submitting part of their paycheck. With a significant portion of the potential workforce not, well, working, that means lower benefits for those who qualify. It would be easy to blame the unemployment problem solely on baby boomers, but lower financial stability in general causes them to delay retirement, and inevitably hurt themselves. Everyone ends up suffering.

In understanding my theory, I must ask the question: how has the purpose of college changed?

I have only thought about the college experience in what I thought was cold, logical, and realistic (if not pessimistic). College, in my mind, was solely about attaining a degree to prove to future employers I am qualified for a job. The general experience did not seem to matter.

Given my theory I, and my fellow millennials, must reshape the expectations of college and the job market.

The first step is understanding, and accepting, that a degree does not equal a job guarantee. With low job opportunities comes high competition, so I need to set myself apart from the rest. That could mean maintaining a high GPA to showcase my capabilities, or creating lasting relationships with my professors and mentors. Networking with peers could be a huge help after graduation. In other words, I need the college experience.

College is about more than a degree; it is worth what I put into it. Understanding this changes my views of the purposes of college. In making the best of my education, and acknowledging the harsh realities of the economy, I may not have a guarantee of employment, but I could have an improved chance.

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