College students of today are anxious of the next step as childhood memories of the Great Recession invoke anxiety.
The Great Depression left a bitter memory for those who endured it. The tough financial difficulties of the 1930s influenced the conditions of family life across America. Confused by the state of their family, Depression-era children carried a sense of financial conservativism that lasted their entire lives.
2008 saw the worst US economic recession since the Great Depression, the years that followed saw financial struggles unknown in recent history. Though not as worse as the Depression, because of the many social welfare programs put in place to prevent another depression like social security, unemployment benefits and food stamps.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8.7 million Americans lost their job between winter of 2007 and spring of 2010. This period of economic trough was called the Great Recession, and Generation Z was just coming of age during this stressful time.
While the severity was not the same, the poor economic environment of the Great Recession still confused young people and may have left a lasting impact.
Just as the Depression mentally scarred children in the 1930s, the effects of the Recession was edged into the minds of children too. As Generation Z begins entering the professional job market, they take with them the anxiety of experiencing hard times.
“Times were bad but I did not understand it,” recalls Tyler Cox, a 20 year old from Philadelphia, “The Recession affected my perspective of college, knowing how much student debt I will take on does not prepare me if [the United States] falls into another recession.”
Cox’s family suffered during the Recession, while his father did not lose his job, the Cox family had adapted to being naturally resourceful and responsible. The Philadelphia native mentioned being nervous about financial stability post-college.
“My mom was really stressed out, but I did not fully know what was going on,” claims Benjamin Pierce, a 19 year old from Boston, “She had lost her high-ranking insurance job which sent family in a tailspin. I did not know it was the Recession that had caused this until years later.”
Pierce echoes Cox’s remarks of being confused. Confusion feeds into the concern of the future: it is a fear of the unknown. As children, Generation Z did not comprehend the events of the Recession but noticed its effects. This state of confusion has been carried with them, adding addition uncertainties to life after college.
Rosa Emory, a job coach at Marist College’s Career Services Center, was present in the office during the Recession. Emory explained that the finance majors were paranoid on campus, considering there was a deficit of finance jobs in New York.
“One trend that has continued since the Recession is the positive graduate school rate,” Emory elaborated, “To buy time before entering the job market; students attended graduate school to delay entering the work force.”
Career Services acknowledges that all students are nervous about making the switch from college to the real world therefore accepting the anxiety of Generation Z as common practice. However, in 2017, Forbes magazine wrote that Generation Z desires “a clear career path to success,” signaling a priority of financial stability.
Student loan debt, a wealth gap, and memories of a Recession are all real factors this fresh batch of workers are considering before they enter employment. If history is doomed to repeat itself, society now enters a new period of financial conservatism.