Where the young people aren’t
Some of the old-time Pacific Crest Trail hands are getting baffled about a new mystery: Where have all the young people gone? They say that you get more than a couple of days from any trailhead and all you see is old grey-bearded farts like them. They especially remark on the almost total lack of twenty-somethings.
Well, it’s simple enough. This economy has been brutal to young people, especially young people with the job history of “trail trash”. These young people used to take casual jobs for long enough to get a nut to hit the trail for a few months, then go back to work in the restaurant or outdoors industry when their nut ran out and do it again six months later. But the layoffs in other industries mean that employers have a huge pool of potential employees, most of who have experience and a job history that does *not* have a lot of gaps in it. So the twenty-somethings are at home, looking for even menial restaurant jobs, they’re not at work or on the trail. It’s gotten to the point where a lot of them are complaining that the Boomers rolled up the economic carpet behind them, leaving younger people only with the carpet lint, because there just aren’t any jobs to have if you’re a twenty-something who isn’t spawn of one of our elite feudal overlords.
And for the thirty and forty-somethings, they have jobs and they have kids and they’d prefer to keep their jobs thank you very much, which means they aren’t taking their vacations because then their boss might realize that they are not, in fact, indispensable. Leaving fifty-somethings. Who if they lose their job are in the same position as twenty-somethings except that they’ll likely *never* have another job because employers apparently believe that grey hairs force all the brains out of your head into your Depends. So you got a buyout at work, you have a too-big house that you can sell for $100K or so more than you owe on it, you got another hundred thou in your retirement account, you’re healthy, you have ten years to wait for retirement and $20K/year to do it with, and you’ve always liked backpacking and wilderness camping but never had time to do much of it… why *not* sell everything you own and hit the trail?
Of course, this is no way to run an economy. If nobody can afford recreation yet there’s a surplus of unemployed people, there’s not going to be any demand, and it’s demand that creates jobs, not rich people. Because businesses aren’t charities. They hire the people they need to meet demand for their goods or services, no more, no less. No demand, no hiring. Give’em a tax break and they’ll pocket it, so tax breaks aren’t going to make them hire. People buying stuff is going to make them hire. Recreation is one of those areas where people buy stuff, but if nobody has any money for it other than a buncha grey-beards waiting out their time to Social Security… well. How is that going to create jobs?
This post originally appeared at Badtux the Snarky Penguin.