How Will Prolonged Joblessness Shape Our Country?
The Atlantic's Don Peck predicts that the future of America will continue to be jobless, which will transform the culture of our nation.
If it persists much longer, this era of high joblessness will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults-and quite possibly those of the children behind them as well. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar white men-and on white culture. It could change the nature of modern marriage, and also cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a kind of despair and dysfunction not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years.No one knows what will happen next or how, precisely, a prolonged era of unemployment might shape the culture of our nation. But Peck has great concerns about institutions like marriage, the degradation of husbands and fathers, and how the millennial generation will fare-what with all our self-esteem-boosting 1980s public school curricula (we are bright shining special wonders who are destined for great things because of our intrinsic specialness) and our inability to connect performance with reward (we needn't work for work's sake but for some deeper purpose-though we also want money and nice things). That so many millennials are failing to find great jobs out of college helps remove the stigma from not working (funemployment!), and it can lead to soul-searching and positive life-redirection, but it's more likely to beget prolonged adolescence, aimlessness, and loss of hope.How will prolonged joblessness shape the culture of the nation?Photo (cc) by Flickr user Tony the Misfit (back slowly)