occupy our street

Over at the Wall Street Journal, they are reporting that young men have been hit hardest by the recession, especially if they didn’t go to college.

For men with a high school diploma between 20 and 24 the unemployment rate is over 22%, and over 14% for those between 25 and 30. These rates are only slightly lower than those who didn’t even finish high school.

This is partly because the job sectors that hire young men who didn’t go to college are down, like construction and manufacturing. Women in these groups, without high school, fare 3 or 4 points better, but only because helping and service jobs are hiring, if not paying well.

And keep in mind that these high rates of unemployment among young men are occurring while we have two or three wars going. As soldiers return, with more discipline and experience, it can only get worse for 20 something men who didn’t go to college or join the army.

On the other hand, the unemployment rate for men and women who did finish college is 7.7% for those under 24, and 4.2% for those between 25 and 34. Even factoring in their huge school bills, they are probably better off—since their unemployment rate is even lower than the national average.

But frankly even college grads are competing for low end jobs, and often taking the jobs these younger, less educated men would have taken before. It remains to be seen the impact of these trends. But some research indicates young people who are unemployed tend to

    * believe success depends more on luck than effort
    * support government redistribution programs
    * have less faith in public institutions

You wish they would have more faith in God. Historically hard times have prompted more prayer. But these kids have parents who have been less likely to go to church and their schools have been much less likely to recognize God in any way.

I’ve met these guys. The county where our church is has a lot of them, a county where finishing high school and getting a job in an automotive-related plant has been the standard of success for decades.

Churches should engage them. But how do we find these guys? How do we help them? Where can we point them? They often lack the right attitudes. And the right skills.

What is our responsibility to a generation of angry young men, men who drink too much and fight too much? And how is the problem in rural counties compounded in the larger cities? How can the demons be cast out, except by prayer and fasting?

Such needs should be enough to drive them, and us, to our knees. Great need could be the fertile soil of revival, as it has been in times past.

We could, of course, keep waiting for the lenders and the legislators to solve this problem for us. Another war tends to be their preferred solution.

Or we could love, mentor and hire a generation of young people, men and women, college educated or not, who need more skills than we’ve taught them, more hope than we’ve given them, and more character than we’ve shown them.

When we do this, and when our churches do this, charity will thrive and entrepreneurship will emerge. Those of means will creatively engage those with needs, next door and in our neighborhoods.

We’re running out of time.

_____________________
What can churches do? Or individuals?
_____________________

See related posts—

Why are men so angry?

Men will be boys

On Occupy Wall Street

Occupy my street

Dear Wall Street banker

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

2 Responses to “occupy our street”

  1. What I find interesting here is a lack of fellowship, (koinonia,) or what would be described as intimate relationship in our society. A majority of people have embraced the idea that we should be able to take of ourselves, or if we don’t we have a weakness. In years past we were able to connect our young men and women within our church community and people in our friendship networks to help guide them to employment. It is almost as if when we sent our jobs to the ends of the world to save money in production, it evaporated those links that helped us grow “community”. Now the elite members of our society who benefited from the foreign job labor desire to quickly quell this rebellion and disorder. Sadly they are without much interest in trying to reconnect our youth in a healthy community of networking to find work. What will probably result, is another example of what happened in the 60’s where they will develop their own network of anger that will disrupt our society even more.

  2. Wally, thanks for this post these words resonated with me as a 29 year old who went through a year of part time employment and who is now thankfully employed as a science teacher.

    “Or we could love, mentor and hire a generation of young people, men and women, college educated or not, who need more skills than we’ve taught them, more hope than we’ve given them, and more character than we’ve shown them.

    When we do this, and when our churches do this, charity will thrive and entrepreneurship will emerge. Those of means will creatively engage those with needs, next door and in our neighborhoods.”

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