I offer studies like this to disprove much of their blanket statements (which tend to be made by people over the age of 35-40). Contrary to what these people believe (that they are better off because they worked hard, and people who are struggling now and need assistance is the result of them not wanting to work as hard), life is NOT fair. Those who make those statements are teaching a philosophy that "Life is Fair". I worked hard and I'm well off. Those who aren't well off must not have worked very hard, because life is fair.
They are removing context from the situation.
I would counter that with the notion that if those "hard workers" had been born 20 years later, there is a good chance they would not get to where they are today. Why? Because the world is a different place now than 20 years ago. We like to think that under different circumstances, we would STILL achieve what we have achieved thus far. If I worked my way up in a news channel to become a successful news anchor, I like to think that if I were 25 today, I would still end up as a successful news anchor 20 years from now. I basically like to think that "Life is Fair". But it's not. Context is much more important than those blanket-statement-makers would like to think.
A few months back, I posted an article on here that also defies the conventional idea that each generation is better off than the previous. What the study quoted in that article determined was that my generation as a whole is making less than our parents did. Another conventional idea is that even though we are currently experiencing an economic downturn, that is only a little blip--and a few years of hard work will put you right back on the track you would have been had the economy not gone into the toilet. In essence, even with this current crisis, life is fair--and things will be just fine in a few years. The current generation will be just as well off, if not better, than the previous.
And with that, here is an interesting article.
The Curse of the Class of 2009
The worse news: Even those who land jobs will likely suffer lower wages for a decade or more compared to those lucky enough to graduate in better times, studies show.
Andrew Friedson graduated last year from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics and a stint as student-body president on his résumé. After working on Barack Obama's presidential campaign for a few months, Mr. Friedson hoped to get a position in the new administration. When that didn't pan out he looked for jobs on Capitol Hill. No luck there, either.
So now, instead of learning about policymaking and legislation, he's earning about $1,250 a month as a high-school tutor and a part-time fundraiser for Hillel, a Jewish campus organization. To save money, he's living with his parents.
Low Wages Linger
Ms. Kahn found that for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, those with the misfortune to graduate during the recession earned 7% to 8% less in their first year out than comparable workers who graduated in better times. The effect persisted over many years, with recession-era grads earning 4% to 5% less by their 12th year out of college, and 2% less by their 18th year out.
Andrew Friedson, 23, lives with his parents and works as a high-school tutor.
For example, a man who graduated in December 1982 when unemployment was at 10.8% made, on average, 23% less his first year out of college and 6.6% less 18 years out than one who graduated in May 1981 when the unemployment rate was 7.5%. For a typical worker, that would mean earning $100,000 less over the 18-year period.
Two recent college graduates are scraping by in the toughest job market in years. They're stuck between trying to find jobs that advance their careers and landing jobs that pay the bills. WSJ's Matt Rivera reports.
This year, employers say they'll hire 22% fewer college graduates than last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an organization of career counselors. At the same time, colleges are expected to see the highest number of graduates in a decade. The average starting salary for graduates who do get jobs, meanwhile, dropped to $48,515 this spring, down 2.2% from the same time last year, according to NACE.
Plenty of recent graduates are making far less than the average. Between her business marketing degree and numerous New York City contacts, Nicole Buckley, 21, figured she would find a marketing job after graduating in December from Siena College, a small Catholic liberal arts college near Albany, N.Y. She didn't expect to be working the jobs she has now, five months after graduation: As a full-time receptionist with a part-time gig as a model, promoting Bacardi rum and Grey Goose vodka to patrons at bars. But after doing two interviews a day and applying to more than 50 jobs, she had to do something to pay the bills.
Diane Hempe couldn't find a job as a teacher so ended up working at Wells Fargo and switching career paths.
"I don't think anyone went to college and said, 'I want to graduate and make $25,000 a year,' " says Ms. Buckley. She estimates her earnings at a little less than $30,000 between the two jobs.
"As soon as I saw the offer for Sirius," she says, "it didn't matter how many hours a week." She spends the other half of her week doing administrative tasks for a staffing company, earning $1,500 a month -- $18,000 a year -- between the two jobs.
Still, Ms. Veilleux probably will be better off than those who take low-wage jobs outside their fields, says Till Marco von Wachter, a Columbia University economist. Mr. von Wachter, with a couple of colleagues, has looked at wage data covering 70% of all Canadians who graduated from college between 1976 and 1995, a span encompassing two recessions. His work indicates that graduates who get jobs in their fields -- even low-paying jobs -- are able to learn the right skills, and thus have an edge when the economy rebounds.
Mr. von Wachter also found that what recession-era graduates studied, and where they went to school, made a big difference in how quickly they caught up to workers who graduated in boom times. People who majored in fields that lead to high-paying jobs, such as chemistry, biology, physics and engineering, tended to catch up to other graduates more quickly, primarily by switching jobs during the economic recovery and landing at better firms. In contrast, says Mr. von Wachter, the wages of humanities majors at less prestigious schools were less likely to catch up to the wages of their peers who graduated in healthier times.
New York roommates Sarah Veilleux, left, and Nicole Buckley each have two jobs to make ends meet
For some graduates, the recession has had an unintended upside: a career path they never thought they wanted.
Diane Hempe, 24, planned to be a teacher. But after graduating from the University of Maryland last year with an elementary education degree, she failed to find a job at a school. So she settled for working at a day-care center, where the $12 an hour she brought in felt like an affront.
And in the meantime she's shifting her long-term goals. Instead of getting a master's degree in education like she once thought she would, Ms. Hempe says eventually she plans to get her master's in business.
Another alternative to unemployment or a low-paying job: Stay in school.
Graduate applications for 2007-2008 were up 8% nationwide compared to the year before, according to the most recent numbers from the Council of Graduate Schools. Schools such as Northwestern University and Harvard are already tracking double-digit increases this year.
College grads who went to graduate school instead of the job market during the early '80s recession didn't suffer the same wage losses, says Ms. Kahn, the Yale economist.
Write to Sara Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org