The cultural consequences of unemployment
David Brooks, an editorial writer for the New York Times, referenced a powerful essay in The Atlantic. He broke down its main ideas into the societal segments who are disproportionally effected by the current recession and the subsequent cultural consequences:
Men: Last November nearly a fifth of all men between 25 and 54 did not have jobs, the highest figure since the labor bureau began counting in 1954. We are very close to marking the moment when there will be more women in the work force than men.
Long term unemployment is one of the most devastating experiences a person can endure equalling the death of a spouse. Men who are unemployed for an extended length of time are more likely to drink, abuse their children more, and suffer debilitating blows to their identity.
Young People: High School and college grads are entering a miserable job market. College grads who entered the job market during the recession of 1981 earned 25 percent less than grads who entered when times were good.
Over a lifetime, recession kids can expect to earn $100,000 less than their luckier cohorts. They are less likely to get professional level jobs through life. They are less likely to switch jobs later in their career, even in pursuit of greater opportunity.
These are challenging times and our social fabric needs a tightly woven response. As a christian, I'm convinced that the church is gathered for such a time and place. It's people need to gather in those who are impacted; providing meals, rental payments, or job search services. It also needs to provide places of meaning for unaffiliated and disenfranchised 20 somethings – giving them an intergenerational community of care beyond the network sites of Facebook and Twitter.
Every solution will entail inconvenience, but the call of faith has never been free from it.