Chad Bennett looks for work at an employment center in Tallahassee, Fla. AP Photo/Phil Coale
The slackers of the 1990s are remembered as listless MTV watchers and basement dwellers who opted out of America's striving, mercenary ethos. Many young adults today look similar at first glance. They're in their 20s or early 30s, they don't have jobs or spouses, and many live with mom and dad. But that's not by choice.
This generation of reluctant slackers is eager to get started building careers, owning homes, getting married and having kids. They have put their lives on hold, though, thanks to the bleak economic climate.
"I feel like a failure at times," Shatoria Smith, 26, told The Lookout.
Since graduating from college in 2007, Smith has been living with her parents in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. In early 2008, she was laid off from her job with the local school district thanks to budget cuts, and since then has been looking unsuccessfully for full-time work--while getting an MBA that has been of little use.
Smith said her job woes have affected other aspects of her life. "All my friends I went to school with, they're getting married, they're having kids," she said. "I've had several guys want to go out with me … but I don't feel like I'm good dating material … I don't wanna feel like I'm getting into this relationship and I'm mooching off them."
It's not just her personal life that's stuck in neutral. Florida was hit hard by the housing bust, and Smith said there are plenty of foreclosed properties in her area that are for sale at low prices. "I would love to buy a home or a condo," she said, "but I can't."
Smith's experience is far from unique. She first contacted The Lookout in the summer, after we asked readers to share their stories of being out of work. That young people have been among the hardest hit by the jobs crisis has been well-publicized. Statistics suggest that the dismal employment picture is leading an increasing number of people in their twenties and early thirties to put off taking the steps that for decades have defined the transition to American adulthood.Read More »from Reluctant slackers: economy leads young Americans to put adulthood on hold