>> Wednesday, February 3, 2010
As of last October, Richard Florida seemed to think the creative class theory is still very valid, despite the recession. I'm starting to wonder if things are changing as I've had to re-evaluate my priorities based on the weak job market.
While I was in grad school I especially appreciated Florida's theory since it pretty accurately described my life choices up until that point. Unlike several of my childhood friends who settled down pretty early, I figured there was no better time to live life to the fullest than in your twenties. As long as I was contributing to my educational and work experience, the world was my oyster. Soon after I arrived in DC, I found that LOTS of people my age felt the exact same way. Honestly, it was the best time of my life (looking back).
Florida claimed that, for young adults:
The highest-ranked factor is the ability to meet people and make friends. Young, educated people intuitively understand what economic sociologists have documented: Vibrant social networks are key to landing jobs, moving forward in your career, and one’s broader personal happiness. They not only desire a thick labor market but what I have come to call a thick mating market where they can meet new people, go out on dates, and eventually find a life partner. What do you think is more important to happiness: Finding a great job or finding the right life partner?
Where older Americans see high-quality schools and safe streets as key, Gen Y understandably ranks the availability of outstanding colleges and universities higher. Many are likely to go back to graduate school and having great programs nearby is a big plus. When it comes to their overall community satisfaction, access to open space, being in an aesthetically beautiful city, and having access to vibrant nightlife are also quite important. Affordable housing, air, and water quality, and availability of religious institutions matter too but slightly less so.
My question is, if this young adult "American Dream" is harder to attain due to the recession, are we Gen Y folks going to be disappointed more so than our previous generations would have been? I think we, more than any other generation, have completely believed in 'the sky is the limit' motto. For example, instead of being nervous about moving to DC without more than an internship lead, I had confidence that something would work out (and sure enough it did). Right now, however, I am terrified to do that. I know that even part time jobs are hard to come by and I could put myself into some serious credit problems without having a well calculated plan.
Times a changin'
While, according to Florida's list the best job markets are still in the "fun" cities, I've heard many of my grad friends have had to start looking in more isolated suburban towns for employment. Statistics are already starting to show that rural cities and states are seeing a boom in employment (at least in planning). Likewise, I've noticed that over half of the job postings online are from random states like New Mexico, Nevada, the Dakodas and Wyoming. Seems like the population and job distribution is moving back to the suburbs and rural areas after having a brief revitalization in the inner cities... at least as long as the recession is affecting personal preferences (rented movie and dinner at home versus a $20 Thai meal at a posh restaurant downtown... man I want me some Thai right now! ;).
I think it's put young adults in a complicated position. We want to do more than our parents generation and embrace all of the cultural amenities our cities have to offer.. but living paycheck to paycheck while renting might not be the smartest plan when you could lose your job with little in savings. I can imagine a lot of people feel like I do and are trying to find a balance instead of giving up on their dreams all together (perhaps take that $400/month Raleigh apartment versus twice that amount in DC for a job with equal pay). Raleigh is still a cool city, yes? I honestly don't know because I've been there maybe once in my life.. but it doesn't seem so bad based on what people say about it.
So... the purpose of this blog isn't to complain.. rather to reflect on how things change. I still feel that in the end everything will be fine. I've just realized I need to lower my expectations some and not believe that I am wrong for doing so. There can still be many adventures ahead, but I think we might need to start embracing the "mini adventures" that are easy to come by. Weekend photography outings definitely count.
I'll end with some photos of my shoot with Keith last weekend. He and his wife are a great wedding photography team in Northeast Columbia and I'm glad he asked me to do a photo exchange for some professional head shots (I have a feeling I got a little bit more for my time than he did, but I'm thankful nonetheless ;)
I'll be running with Rylynn at the Riverfront Park today and am excited to find a place that won't flood every time it rains :D