Hopeless, Jobless America? Go East, Young Yank

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/07/2012 09:21:00 AM
There are two interesting features in TIME on dealing with the generally jobless state of modern America. The first is a Job-like (biblical) lament about how unpaid internships are common Stateside when they should not be. As you'd expect, the article is accompanied by sob stories about young Americans enduring a string of unpaid internships. Fed up, a generation that is growing up during the Occupy movement is supposedly petitioning the US Department of Labor to stop these abusive practices. Among other things, laws forbidding unpaid internships are being proposed. However, you have to wonder whether excessively strict regulation of what many companies have regarded as drudge work may discourage the practice altogether. The unfortunate end result may be discontinuing a traditional route into paid employment that, unsavory as it may be at times, is par for the course in a country on a clear downward trend in the global league tables.

On a more optimistic note, I am keener on another piece describing what I've recommended before: Why stick around in the jobless West when you can move to where the action is in the much faster-growing Pacific Rim? While Americans are unfortunate to be Americans in these sweepstakes since they are taxed by the IRS worldwide, being employed in an "exotic" location should be a better prospect than being stuck unemployed. Who sends and receives migrants? The tables are turning for economic reasons:
Raised in the relative affluence of the 1990s, the so-called millennial generation graduated in one of the worst recessions since World War II. As these young people from some of the world’s richest countries struggle to find jobs, Asian nations are filling some of the gap. “The shifting balance of global growth is making emerging economies more attractive,” explains Madeleine Sumption, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “It is turning them into receiving countries, when traditionally they’ve been sending countries.”

Fueling the eastward migration is a generation-defining shortage of jobs. The 2008–09 financial crisis, coupled with the euro debt crisis, has hit people in Europe and North America hard. Recent college graduates and young people entering the workforce for the first time are particularly at risk. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 75 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 struggling to find work, particularly in developed economies and Europe. The European Union youth unemployment rates span from 22% in the U.K. to more than half of 15-to-24-year-olds in Spain and Greece. Last year, more than half of Americans under 25 who hold a bachelor’s degree were jobless or underemployed — the highest in more than a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. data by the Associated Press. And while governments struggle to curb the jobs crisis amid budget deficits and austerity measures, East Asia is booming.

Though some East Asian nations still struggle with youth unemployment, the region is doing relatively well. According to the ILO, East Asia’s jobless-youth rate hovered at about 8.3% in 2010 and is projected to hold steady over the next few years. This has led to an influx of young people [from the West]. In Hong Kong...the government reported an average increase of 26% in issuing temporary work visas to residents of the U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy and France from 2007 to ’11. 
Harping on a theme I've highlighted before, it is truly unconscionable that 53.6% of college graduates in the US are unemployed or underemployed (flipping burgers at Mickey D's, selling Blu-Ray players at Best Buy, etc.) I don't know about you, but I would feel so ashamed about blithely carrying on offering "college is the key to prosperity" snake oil while graduates take on mountains of debt with little hope of finding remunerative employment. Despite certain academic rent-seekers denying that the US university system is in dire need of repair to address employability issues--why attend increasingly costly college to earn increasingly less (if you can find work at all)--more practical sorts who aren't stuck in ivory towers should know better.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the global tertiary system of education to become more alike the German apprenticeship system instead of the Anglo-Saxon uni-jobless system, there are stopgap measures. Flee America, the land of no opportunity, and head east young Yank, head east.