In 2008, young adults piled into election booths to vote overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. Their adulation struck me personally as a weird sort of homage to the cult of personality. After all, Obama had no executive experience running any organization of any substantial size whatsoever up to that point, yet many young people were charmed by Obama’s optimism and charisma. According to MSNBC, young “voters preferred Obama over John McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent — the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976.”
Fast forward a little over three years later, and the future for Americans between 20 and 24 looks bleak. The unemployment rate for this group has risen to as high as 17.1% during the Obama administration. When President Obama first took office, the unemployment rate for this demographic was 12.4%. As of January 2012, it remains persistently high at 13.3%.
Today, this demographic is so desperate to find employment that employers have taken advantage of this situation by offering more unpaid summer internships. For instance, Stanford University noted that employers “posted 643 unpaid internships on Stanford’s job board” in the 2010 academic year, “more than triple the 174 posted” in 2008.
It is unlikely this state of affairs was the sort of “hope and change” twenty-somethings were looking for when they entered polling booths some three years ago.
Hopefully, they’ve learned a painful lesson about the difference between fantasy and reality. I just hope that Julio (see video below) is not still working at McDonald’s.