One of the bigger stories over the next few years among American youth will be the adjustments made in a struggling economy. 80 Million Strong has already done fantastic work on this issue.

The New York Times published a piece the other day on the millennials’ struggles to find summer employment and how they’re adjusting.

School’s out for summer 2009, and instead of getting a jump on the boundless futures that parents and colleges always promised them, students this year are receiving a reality check.

The well-paying summer jobs that in previous years seemed like a birthright have grown scarce, and pre-professional internships are disappearing as companies cut back across the board. Recession-strapped parents don’t always have the means or will to bankroll starter apartments or art tours of Tuscany.

So many college students and recent graduates are heading to where they least expected: back home, and facing an unfamiliar prospect: downtime, maybe too much of it. To a high-achieving generation whose schedules were once crammed with extracurricular activities meant to propel them into college, it feels like an empty summer — eerie, and a bit scary.

I don’t want to be too positive here, especially given the legitimate economic trauma hitting many youth now (the article eventually cites data showing that almost one in four sixteen to nineteen year olds is unemployed). I do think, though, that these difficult times that lay ahead could fortify this generation and put the finishing touches on a group of people that are eventually going to need to rebuild the United States. Resourcefulness — namely learning and practicing those still-useful skills taken for granted by our parents and grandparents — is something that’s gone by the wayside. While keeping up with cutting edge technology is our expertise, we often allow it to become a hindrance from developing other skills that we might value in the tough times ahead, like sewing, canning, and gardening, among other things.

There are major problems with the economy, and they’re disproportionately impacting youth. But the entirety of the experience doesn’t have to be negative. This summer of boredom could lead to unforeseen positives for those willing to explore.

Just some food for thought. Any comments?

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