"The Go-Nowhere Generation": Why Aren't Young Americans Hitting the Road to Find Jobs?

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Today’s generation is literally going nowhere." That’s the argument Todd Buchholz and his daughter Victoria make in a recent Op-Ed published in The New York Times. Census Bureau data shows that the chance a 20-something will move to another state has fallen more than 40 percent since the 1980s. Meanwhile, the proportion of young adults living at home has nearly doubled. The Buchholzes say what we’re seeing is a shift in attitude — and that today, more than ever, young people are less willing to leave their hometowns to find better opportunities.

Todd Buchholz is a former White House economist under the George H.W. Bush administration. He's also the author of "Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race." His daughter Victoria Buchholz is a student at Cambridge University.

Guests:

Todd Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [22]

Martel732

This author fails to realize that the prediction of the Luddites is finally coming true. Between automation and outsourcing, there is literally not enough work for the American populace.

To solve this, we would have to be able to slash wages down toward Chinese levels, which is physically impossible even if deflation were to occur, because the US infrastructure is extremely energy inefficient and personal auto ownership is usually a must. This means that everything being equal, a US worker is *still* more expensive than a Chinese worker, because the US worker has extra costs like mandated auto insurance, fuel costs, and vehicle upkeep.

I'm not a conservative. I actually subscribe to the ordo-liberal school of thought. But economists like this author are constantly ignoring biophysical realities that are making life progressively more difficult in the US. Living at home simply maximizes available biophysical and energy resources. Economists need to know a little more science I'm afraid.

Mar. 15 2012 04:13 PM

I agree with Duncan that the Buchholzes are a prime example of the growing wealth gap in our nation. Mr. Bucholz's analysis downplays the economic challenges young college graduates face and over-attributes their behavior to the internet. He imagines that his daughter doesn't have these problems because she's more "driven" than her peers. Perhaps the difference is that she has more opportunities and resources like parents who can afford to send her overseas for college (and apparently part of high school according to her). The young people who are able to move to another state to look for work or without a high paying job lined up are often only able to do so thanks to a financial safety net provided by their families. In these increasingly difficult economic times, many parents are not only unable to financially help their adult children but in fact need help from them!

I agree that young people would benefit from living further from where they grew up for at least part of their lives. I also believe that many would like to. It is a complete oversimplification to say that lack of drive or too much parental involvement is the primary reason this doesn't happen. It shows just how out of touch the very wealthy are with the rest of American society.

Mar. 13 2012 07:19 PM
Courtney

"Last time I checked, the recession happened because a board room full of multi-millionaires got just a little bit more greedy and set into motion a ticking time-bomb to profit off of at the very real expense of others. It wasn't a 22 year-old college graduate who, after seeing the way the world really works and after dealing with the pyramid scheme of a totally useless college education, got a little apathetic and disheartened along the way."

http://www.preludetotheendoftheworld.com/2012/03/go-nowhere-generation-has-nowhere-to-go.html#more

Mar. 13 2012 12:58 PM
Duncan from Hermiston, OR.

Todd and Victoria Buchholz are a perfect example of the growing disconnect between the haves and the have-nots in our country. In my case, I did everything right. I graduated with a bachelor’s of science and I started my own small business. I don’t do drugs and I don’t spend frivolously on electronic gadgets. I would love to move to another state and start a new life. But how? My business barely broke even and now I’m broke with $26,000 in debt from student loans (which is relatively not that bad). I blew the rest of my money traveling to job interviews and now I’m 27 years old and live with my parents. Every waking moment I am trying to figure out how to get out of this one horse town, but the part-time dead-end job I have now barely pays for the gas I use during the commute. The idea that hard work will make you rich is a farce. Statistically, you are much more likely to work hard and remain poor. Unless, of course, you come from the right family.

Mar. 13 2012 01:44 AM
Mike from Massachusetts

I think that the "stay-at-homes" may be just another symptom of the fact that we are becoming an increasingly risk-averse society:

Where the stock market used to be about risking capital to earn a return, today's financial markets seem to be dominated by hedge funds that are designed to "win" no matter which way the market goes, minimizing risk;

Corporations contribute to both sides in political campaigns rather than backing any specific candidate's positions so that, whoever wins, they can hope to have leverage;

The majority of people avoid any art, entertainment, thought, or political stance that varies too drastically from what they've been used to all of their lives;

I could go on, but you get the idea. If the current generation is avoiding taking risks, they are only following in their parents' footsteps.

Mar. 12 2012 10:09 PM
Kayza Zajac

Listener from NYC has a good point.

I don't think that these young people are lazy, as much as that they have not been given the skills they need to make this kind of move. The simple fact that young people in their 20s are being referred to as "kids" is telling. A "kid" can be very hard working and even responsible - for a "kid", but that's a different level of behavior than we expect from "adults".

I suspect that many of these "kids" would find the transition to real adulthood somewhat difficult, but extremely liberating.

I also recognize that it's not always so easy to move. But, it IS possible to do it, if you plan and are willing to be somewhat unsettled for a while. People do do it. It's not always the best move, of course, but it's often worth considering.

Mar. 12 2012 09:52 PM
Katia

(cont. from below)
I moved two hours away from the town where I grew up because it was never a good fit for me. I moved from the town that both sides of my family lived in since both sets of grandparents were kids. It wasn't to another state but it was a lot further than those so-called “non-lazy” generations went, which was sometimes only down the street and family lived near each other! (And as someone pointed: even then, to move a hundred miles, I was told by the prospective employer, once they found out where I lived, that “this might not be the job for you if you have to move;” I was lucky to convince them otherwise but that was only because waiting for a security clearance gave me plenty of time to find an apartment). I'd have loved to study overseas or work overseas but it was never in the budget. Now that it might be a possibility, I'm tied down to a car that is almost paid off, a cat, a relationship, and a disabled parent, not to mention a steady job that pays well and has good benefits that I'd be a fool to leave.

My generation can't win. We stick around, we're lazy no-goods. If we all moved away, we'd be impatient gaddabouts who can't settle down in one place and don't recognize the value of family ties.

Mar. 12 2012 09:27 PM
Katia

(cont. from below)
I moved two hours away from the town where I grew up because it was never a good fit for me. I moved from the town that both sides of my family lived in since both sets of grandparents were kids. It wasn't to another state but it was a lot further than those so-called “non-lazy” generations went, which was sometimes only down the street and family lived near each other! (And as someone pointed: even then, to move a hundred miles, I was told by the prospective employer, once they found out where I lived, that “this might not be the job for you if you have to move;” I was lucky to convince them otherwise but that was only because waiting for a security clearance gave me plenty of time to find an apartment). I'd have loved to study overseas or work overseas but it was never in the budget. Now that it might be a possibility, I'm tied down to a car that is almost paid off, a cat, a relationship, and a disabled parent, not to mention a steady job that pays well and has good benefits that I'd be a fool to leave.

My generation can't win. We stick around, we're lazy no-goods. If we all moved away, we'd be impatient gaddabouts who can't settle down in one place and don't recognize the value of family ties.

Mar. 12 2012 09:26 PM
Katia

So we were supposed to buy plane tickets to fly to job interviews right out of college when we were in debt and floundering to find even a basic service job? Or were we meant to do it once we'd finally landed a “real” job with “real” pay and benefits that we are finally secure in?

Most of us spent years looking for even part-time or low-wage jobs—and mind you, this was *before* the recession. Once we'd landed one of those, we spent more time looking for jobs that would allow us to start paying off the student loans and move out of our parents' house. Once we landed *those*, we weren't about to start the whole process over again nor give up a sure thing for a crapshoot.

When you're on a “financial hardship” deferment for your student loans because you're working a part-time job for six bucks an hour, where do you get hundreds of dollars for plane tickets to go to an interview? (Possibly more than once, if you don't get the first job you apply for.) Then you go back to find a place to live and shell out more cash for that trip. Then you pay the security deposit and first and/or last month's rent. Then you pack up everything you own into a U-haul and drive days across the country, and you end up somewhere that's probably pretty much the same as the place you left, only now you're hundreds of miles away from your friends and family. (cont. above)

Mar. 12 2012 09:25 PM
bamaro from Texas

Did she just complain about people being on the computer/internet too much and then suggest that people download her stuff on itunes????? Wow. Get a clue.

Mar. 12 2012 03:12 PM
Come On

Kids today are graduating college with more debt and fewer job opportunities than any generation before them. There is a reason more kids are staying home during their twenties and it doesn't have jack squat to do with the internet. It has to do with the worst economic recession since the Depression. Mobility? This isn't 1965 or even 1975 when decent-paying jobs were plentiful. Today, they aren't, especially not for a recent graduate. All that's available are minimum wage service industry or retail jobs. Explain to me how someone is going to move to another state, pay rent and feed themselves off $7.25 an hour. A lot of friends can't even get 40 hours a week of work. They have to take multiple min. wage jobs to get to 40 hours. Wake the hell up. Staying at home past 18 isn't something people long to do. They do it, by and large, because they have to. This father and daughter don't have a clue.

Mar. 12 2012 11:52 AM
Come On

Kids today are graduating college with more debt and fewer job opportunities than any generation before them. There is a reason more kids are staying home during their twenties and it doesn't have jack squat to do with the internet. It has to do with the worst economic recession since the Depression. Mobility? This isn't 1965 or even 1975 when decent-paying jobs were plentiful. Today, they aren't, especially not for a recent graduate. All that's available are minimum wage service industry or retail jobs. Explain to me how someone is going to move to another state, pay rent and feed themselves off $7.25 an hour. A lot of friends can't even get 40 hours a week of work. They have to take multiple min. wage jobs to get to 40 hours. Wake the hell up. Staying at home past 18 isn't something people long to do. They do it, by and large, because they have to. This father and daughter don't have a clue.

Mar. 12 2012 11:51 AM

So are we to assume that Victoria supports herself, pays her own tuition and for those transoceanic flights? Where are these twenty somethings supposed to find a place to live in another state/city without rent deposits and a job? Yes, lots of young people could use a kick-start and some direction but for a 19 year old to assume she knows best when she has obviously been the recipient of substantial advantages is obnoxious.

Mar. 12 2012 10:08 AM
sheri edmondson from Pittsburgh

In my parents generation people frequently moved to a new city for jobs, leaving their parents and support networks behind, however typically they lived in single income homes. in my generation, were the same thing in moving away, but we tried to haveboth parents work in their new homes. I think that part of the reason the current generation of young people are less willing to relocate has to do with seeing how much theirparents struggled with childrearing when they we no t have an extended family rely upon. Families are useful and.supportive.

Mar. 12 2012 10:06 AM
Reid from Somerville

Please never interview another condescending 19 year old about how she is better than her peers.

This interview was a waste of time.

Mar. 12 2012 10:05 AM
derek from Pittsburgh

"Get off the computer" WHAT!? As someone who not only creates art/work/money/meaning from materials such as wood, steel and glass... but also from programming(gasp!) and computer hardware(OMG!).. I'm also lumped(sadly) into this generation you speak of..

here is a piece of meat for the youth of america to chew on ...

in moderation, nothing and everything all at once. go forth and do.

peace

Mar. 12 2012 10:02 AM
Loren from Darien,CT

This argument seems to dismiss the massive student debt most graduates face. Even before Facebook , I couldn't afford my to pay rent inmy own state. To suggest that sown one should just "get on a plane and move" really oversimplifies things.

Mar. 12 2012 09:59 AM
Oh please from Pittsburgh

Get these fools your interviewing off the radio. They are winding everyone up to sell the old man's books.

Go to a job fair and you will be told:
-- Go home, go online and apply. There is no point in going to a job show.

Young people are routinely socially engineered into sitting round and listening to media like your show in the middle of the day.

My advice to young people is start your own business: Don't ask anybody for any money and don't give bankers, accountants, and business middlemen any money once you are successful.

Try the food trades because the mark up is good

Mar. 12 2012 09:55 AM
Wilson from New York

I have friends on Facebook who will drive or take a bus to another state for a weekend to spend time with other friends that they keep in touch with via Facebook. I have friends who have met people while playing games online who will get on a plane to meet them in person. To blame lack of mobility on the internet or videogames seems silly to me. There may be a whole other set of social pathologies associated with those activities but I don't think this is one of them. Perhaps the causation is the other way around -- in a time when people are less able to move around for economic reasons, they rely more on the internet to keep in touch with their friends and acquaintances. And Ms. Buchholz's comment about "making something out of nothing" by stepping <i>away</i> from the computer is just ludicrous in an age when our most celebrated innovators are Larry Page & Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates... the list goes on.

Mar. 12 2012 09:33 AM
Colin McCue from Denver

I am twenty three, about to turn twenty four, and have lived in Colorado my whole life. I moved out of my mothers house when I was eighteen but had to move back in a year and half later, after she lost her job of twenty years. I went to college for a year but dropped out because I couldn't afford it and my mom couldn't sign the loans. I have lived with her ever since. She has since found part time work in retail but still has a Masters degree and I make more money then her with a high school degree. I wanted to leave but the possibility that my mom could become homeless is more worrying then my desire to see the world. Other cultures live with their parents until marriage. I am more concerned with our culture and the stigma that leaving home is a must. Family values is more important to me then myself. And I'm a liberal loving techie geek that worked at Apple Inc. so I'm not talking about abortion when I say family values. It is easier to see the world through the internet then paying for it out of pocket and being physically there.

My mom and I have a better relationship then anyone of her brothers or sister had with her parents and feel that our culture needs to be more concerned with our family then having friends. Look out for your blood because when push comes to shove they are all you have. And Colorado is the best place in the world as far as I am concerned so I don't feel like I am missing out on much.

Mar. 12 2012 08:14 AM
Kayza Zajac

The fact that young people are staying at home for college does not worry me that much - there are often good reasons for that. However, the unwillingness to move for better opportunities is worrisome. I think that a key reason for this is the attitude of children AND their parents. I may call my children by their diminutive names at home, but I can't imagine referring to a "Josh" as "Joshy" in the context described. When a proposal to redefine "late adolescence" into the 20's can avoid being laughed out of consideration, we have a problem. When college administrators can talk about parents who get involved in arguing about their child's grades as a relatively normal thing, we have a problem.

The bottom line is that children whose parents take TOO MUCH "care" of them are going to have a very hard time spreading their wings and flying.

Mar. 12 2012 08:13 AM
A Listener from NYC

Who is going to give a young person with no job in another state a lease for an apartment, even with a guarantor? Most business won't even consider an out-of-state applicant. As a 30-something professional desperate to leave too-expensive New York City (who moved here just before the Great Recession by using a friend's address on my resume because I lived out of state), I am running into this very problem and I have over a decade of experience - imagine how difficult it is for someone younger without job experience who wants to leave their home state in search of better opportunities. I don't think it's as simple as the perceived laziness of the millennials (and what older generation hasn't accused the one behind it of sloth? It was certainly leveled at my generation, too).

Mar. 12 2012 08:12 AM

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