Everyone knows it's terrible out there for young Americans, aka Generation Y or the millennials, who are just entering the workforce.
While the national unemployment rate has slid below 8 percent the past two months, the official tally for Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 was 12 percent in October. And when you factor in the 1.7 million young adults who are not being counted (as they've taken themselves out of the labor force, presumably after giving up), the actual unemployment rate for the age bracket rate rises to 16.6 percent, according to General Opportunity, a nonprofit youth employment organization.
So what's the cause of the pronounced and prolonged crisis among the members of America's newest generation to enter the workforce? The economy itself? Perhaps that's not the only factor, according to the Student Career Development study conducted by Millennial Branding, a Generation Y research firm, along with StudentAdvisor.com.
The survey reveals a generation composed of students who are "not aggressively preparing for their post-college careers," according to the study. After compiling responses to a questionnaire about employment from over 200 students from across the country, an across-the-board trend of low engagement in career planning was revealed. Only 29 percent of the students have received career and job help from their universities, while only 22 percent belong to a professional development or industry-related group.
- Less than half have had an internship in college (40 percent), although 85 percent understand that having an internship is vital to launching a career.
- Despite all of Gen Y's social media savvy, only 1 in 3 have a presence on LinkedIn -- the site that recruiters and human resources officers rely on to post jobs and find candidates. In contrast, 95 percent have a Facebook profile.
"College students are missing out on a very valuable resource by not leveraging LinkedIn," says Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief at StudentAdvisor.com. "Internship opportunities, and the ability to network alumni or gain incredible insight into a company, are all there, waiting for students to take advantage."
Any discussion about the troubled job prospects for millennials must of course also make mention of their debt problems. The average student, according to Forbes, already carries $12,700 in credit-card and other kinds of debt. And nationwide, tuition debt just recently passed the $1 trillion mark.
What are the effects of all these struggles? A cultural shift, say observers and commentators. Millennials have been widely noted for their optimism, but according to a recent Rutgers study, just 14 percent of recent college graduates think they'll be able to do better than their parents financially.
"I'm hoping that the millennial generation doesn't set its sights on homeownership as a benchmark of economic stability," sociologist Katherine Newman told Newsweek this summer, "because it's going to be out of reach for so many of them."