Will Things Get Better for Next U.S. Generation?

DALLAS (Reuters) – Kim Bischof is entering the U.S. job market after she finishes college in May with a degree in special education and is confident that the "American Dream’ is still alive for her, recession be dammed.

"There is a high demand for special education teachers … I’m not too worried about getting a job and job security," said Bischof, 24, of Anderson, Ohio.

She also feels she will live at least as well as her parents did despite the fact that she is entering an economy suffering the worst recession for decades.

Her optimism, echoed by other students in interviews, may reflect the fact that many young Americans today are indeed better off than their parents were at the same age.

U.S. politicians constantly refer to the "American Dream," best defined as the idea that each generation will live a better life than the one before. By now, the mantra has taken on the quality almost of a basic American right that young people can count on automatically.

The current economic crisis is hitting hard but has yet to puncture that basic optimism among young people.

"I think I’ll have more opportunities than my parents had … Opportunity is being driven by technology," said Theron Bowman, 20, who will graduate this spring from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas with an economics degree.

Among respondents aged 18 to 29 interviewed in October of 2008 for a Pew Research Center survey, 51 percent said they thought children today will be better off than their parents when they grow up. That was considerably higher than among any other age group.

Other students on the SMU campus also had high hopes for the future. Jordan Jenkins, 20, a second-year engineering student, agreed that technology was opening opportunities unimaginable to his parents.

He planned to go into video game design, a sector he believes is just going to keep growing.

Some students said the immediate outlook was sour but they were not worried in the long run. Emily Stegich, 20, is majoring in economics said "I am staying in school as long as possible." But she is hopeful that things will pick up in a few years when she plans to enter the job market. Read full story.

(Reuters

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