Job Market Not All Bad News for Gen Y


Syndicated career advice blogger/author Penelope Trunk, whose Twitter feed is actually pretty amusing and insightful, offers her thoughts via bnet.com about why Generation Y is right to be optimistic about the future. Some interesting and encouraging words for those seeking work:

We read about how scared young people are, and how desperate they are for a job, but we don’t hear the other side: That young people are optimistic about their careers, their future and are doing well in the American economy. Underreported stories: Washington, D.C. is the easiest city to find a job, and young people love government jobs; farming is in a renaissance, and the local food movement is teeming with young people; healthcare and teaching are both booming; and while service-oriented work is hated by the top-down, rank-oriented mindset of baby boomers, Gen Y is much more collaborative and happy to work in the service sector.

Here’s another bit of evidence of Gen Y optimism: The Wall Street Journal reports that applications to business schools are down 2%. That’s a small decrease, but business school applications historically go up in a bad economy, and they stay up until things get good again. That applications are down is evidence that young people do not perceive the job market as terrible.

As the country moves to a knowledge-based economy, most Americans can no longer expect to earn more than the generation before them. In fact, Don Peck, writing in the Atlantic, explains that as the economy recovers it will look permanently different. This will not be a recovery where the skills of older people come back into demand; the jobs that emerge will be in new sectors, and the financial expectations of employees will permanently shift because of the new realities…

Additionally, the demographics of the U.S. workplace favor Generation Y: As baby boomers retire, Gen X, which is only half the size of Baby Boomers, cannot replace them. So there will be a significant worker shortage in the U.S. by 2015. Generation y will benefit from the worker shortage. They will get higher paying jobs faster, they will go up the corporate ladder faster, and they will be able to remake the workplace in their own image without much resistance.

You can call Gen Y entitled, or delusional, or self-centered, but Gen Y has a gift for reframing situations in a positive light. This is a gift that stems from the parents of gen Y being obsessed with self-esteem. Self-esteem breeds optimism, and this optimism makes Gen Y emotionally able to fend off the recession better than other generations.