The End of Youthful Opportunity Signals the Death of a Nation

Daniel Drew,  4/21/2015


For those of you who had the privilege of working as a teenager, you may look back on those times with a sense of appreciation for the basic skills that first job taught you. All those stupid mistakes you made early on helped prevent you from making a total fool out of yourself later in your career. Now, many teenagers no longer have that opportunity. With a bloated supply of labor, those burger flipping jobs and retail positions are being filled by aging baby boomers who found out social security wasn't that secure after all. Instead of a bright young face greeting you at Walmart, an old man greets you with a pained expression that reveals a lifetime of dashed dreams.

The Great Recession ushered in a new era. For the first time since the data was collected, the labor force participation rate of teenagers has dropped below the rate of seniors. The rate for teenagers has never been lower. Without the ability to make the necessary mistakes early in life, these teens are guaranteed to make fools of themselves later. Unfortunately, the consequences of missteps in a mid-career position are much more severe. One example that comes to mind is losing 99.8% of your $100 million hedge fund in 9 months. If you don't learn risk management at the cash register, you'll learn it the hard way.

When a nation's senior citizens begin crowding out the entry-level jobs so the new generation doesn't have a chance, you know the country's downfall has begun. They even launch propaganda campaigns to show how young people are lazy, entitled, and narcissistic so they can discredit them and prevent them from getting started in life. Were the baby boomers all members of the Peace Corps by age 17? I'm sure they never did anything arrogant or self-serving in their younger years. Selfishness is not confined to a single generation.

As the boomers take the few entry-level jobs left in the dying economy, the youth are left in the dust, along with the future of America.