Being Unemployed In A Downturn Will Damage Your Career Forever

If you’re just starting out in your career, BusinessWeek has some sobering news for you. Statistics show that people who come of age and spend the early years of their careers un- or underemployed will fall behind their always-employed peers in both earnings and career status, and most will never recover the lost ground.

In an economic downturn, after all, companies cut back first on new hiring, meaning fewer entry-level jobs for recent high school and college graduates.

When today’s unemployed finally do get jobs in the recovery, many may be dissatisfied to be slotted below people who worked all along-especially if the newcomers spent their downtime getting more education, says Richard Thompson, vice-president for talent development at Adecco Group North America, which employs more than 300,000 people in temporary positions. Says Thompson: “You’re going to have multiple generations fighting for the jobs that are going to come back in the recovery.”

Only 46% of people aged 16-24 had jobs in September, the lowest since the government began counting in 1948. The crisis is even hitting recent college graduates. “I’ve applied for a whole lot of restaurant jobs, but even those, nobody calls me back,” says Dan Schmitz, 25, a University of Wisconsin graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Every morning I wake up thinking today’s going to be the day I get a job. I’ve not had a job for months, and it’s getting really frustrating.”

Possible solutions proposed by experts? Job training programs, a lower minimum wage for young workers, apprentices, and trainees, and for young people to cross their fingers and hope that actual economic recovery comes doon.

The Lost Generation [BusinessWeek]

(Photo: Jay Adan)