Unemployment Under 30 – Get A Job

Lazy Americans Under 30 Labor Statistics

“Nearly half of all persons under 30 did not go to work today.” Ok, so when Mitch Daniels added this statement to his State of the Union response on Tuesday night, he might have been stretching things a bit. I don’t normally touch on political subjects, because honestly there’s too much lobbying and money swapped for it to be honest legislation these days. But I have a couple of thoughts to share.

Today I noticed several responses to Daniels’ comments on the Labor Statistics for the under-30 crowd. Yeah he did stretch, misuse (however you want to put it) some of the numbers into making the unemployment rates for this age group seem a little more extreme. When you take into account the number of high school and college students, stay at home parents, and those who cannot work for what ever reason the unemployment rate falls to something much, much lower. But I have a bone to pick with this and it brought back some feelings I had about the Child Labor Act.

There is no reason youth from the age of 16-22 can’t have at least a part-time job. Yeah I know, there are a TON of excuses we can give for riding parents’ coat tails while in school. “We’re focusing on our studies.” “I’m too involved in activities.” “I can’t handle any more outside of classes.” I call bull hockey on this one. One of the issues that is getting Americans – as a whole – into a bind is our lack of work ethic and college debt. We have all these youth living off either parents’ money or student loans, in school, and will take years to pay off their loans. I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it with my own two ears. There are kids out there that will go through their entire high school and college education and never work a day in their life at a job. How are they supposed to know what to do once they graduate? (Now that I am stepping on some toes… Feel free to send me hate mail, but this is how I feel and sometimes ya just go it put it out there.)

My parents raised me to know how to work. I grew up on a ranch and learned how to drive a tractor, farm equipment, and a one ton pickup with a 32′ stock trailer before I could ever even think about getting my driver’s license. I used to ride the bus to the ranch headquarters and walk up the driveway (that seemed a mile long at the time, up hill both ways 🙂 of course), and jump over to the barn to help mom and dad finish vaccinating or sorting calves and feeding for the day. On weekends I would beg my dad to wait while I finished feeding my show calves so I could go to work with him. When mom and dad got busy on the ranch, sometimes I would have to ride the bus to the house and take the 4-wheeler up the hill to check our personal cowherd, and occasionally feed hay. I got pretty darn good at tying 4-5 square bales on that ole 4-wheeler. I believe I was 15 when my whole family was at my brother’s basketball game when a cow had trouble calving. I got her up and pulled the calf, in the snow, and everything was taken care of. I look back and appreciate everything I learned in those years. It sure wasn’t all peaches and cream. I’ll confess, I moaned and ground a time or two, and might have even thrown a fit worthy of dad wearing out my tail, but I learned from it.

I learned an even harder lesson the week before my 18th birthday when my mom died from an accident while sorting cattle. Talk about heart-break. There is nothing we could have done. Working with livestock is a dangerous occupation. I look at life a different way now and immensely appreciate all of the time my parents and teachers took to teach me the skills and safety lessons about working around equipment and livestock. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences.

Now that I have that off my mind, I completely understand the burdens of work when it comes to an education and that not every one is privileged to having a farming family or opportunity to work with their parents. It was far from easy working while taking 18 hours of classes. Every case is different. I have a couple of siblings that could have pushed a little harder to work, and I think they realize that. I seriously doubt you’ll look back and regret working for the experience. Heck, what do ya have to lose? Ya might even find a new passion in life. If nothing else you’ll gain a little appreciation for a good work ethic. We all want our family, friends, and loved ones to do well, and to find what they’re happy doing. But American’s aren’t getting any thinner or out of debt by riding the coat tails of the ones who came before us.

Sorry that got a little lengthy, and maybe preachy, but it’s how I feel on the subject, and sometimes ya just have to let it out.


  1. My feeling exactly, Ryan. We raised five kids to be thoughtful, hardworking, caring adults on the farm, caring for livestock, driving tractors and pickup trucks, and tossing bales of hay and straw into the hayloft. (3 of them actually stayed in the business!) They learned so many important life-lessons and I think they would all say they had plenty of fun. Sorry about your Mom. She raised a good kid.

  2. AMEN, RYAN. I have held at least one part-time job from the time I turned 16. I’m not saying that everyone can do it quite as intense as I have, especially not the two- and three-job schedules I’ve had in the past. We all know that I’ve definitely suffered from burnout more than a few times in the last few years. But I believe we, as a country, need to work on improving our work ethic and focus on minimizing personal debt. I’ve had to learn those hard lessons more than once in my life. Then again, my family was not financially stable growing up, so maybe I’m “blessed” with a few more hard lessons about independence and money than most folks.

    It’s never easy to talk about loss, either, but I empathize with the fact that impacted you. There are few things that influence the way we think and live, quite like the loss of a parent.

    Thanks for sharing. I couldn’t agree more. Fantastic post.

  3. I agree, I was raised working since I could walk basically, and now today (even though i’m almost out of the under 30 crowd!) I still work almost full time while I am going to school full time. I just can’t not work, it feels foreign to me. And I think you hit a valid point on the younger generation taking longer to get to work, I see it every day, and when I meet an 18 year old with a good work ethic, I am pleasantly surprised because they seem to be a little scarce these days… My condolences for your mother, to you and your family, those kinds of accidents are never easy to take.

  4. While there are certainly some things I’d change about my college years, the amount I worked isn’t one of them. Yes, I sometimes had to say no to friends who wanted to go out and have a good time, because I was working. Yes, trying to juggle jobs and school and life was difficult, but being financially independent was – and still is – very important to me.

    Growing up on a ranch gave me a lot of opportunities for work and responsibility at a young age, but I think it has far more to do with the person than where they live. A guy I grew up with – a town kid – started his own lawn care and snow removal business at the age of 10 or 11. By the time we graduated from high school, he had expanded his business so much that his own dad was working for him. Definitely the hardest working friend I had.

    Nice post, Ryan. Work isn’t always fun, but it’s usually pretty darn rewarding – even jobs like the annual task of cleaning out the barn. 🙂

  5. Absolutely right, Ryan! I was raised on a ranch 50 miles from town. My dad thought it was important for me to be able to change my own U-joints, break down my own tires, pull calves, ride, rope, brand, and do all the things my brothers did. I can’t tell you how many times these skills have come in handy throughout my life. My husband and I have raised 5 kids, 1 of which has stayed in agriculture. The others have chosen other paths from the military to an attorney. But, all of them have a STRONG work ethic, and all of them would agree that the lessons learned from agriculture have served them well. When you grow up on a farm/ranch, you HAVE to work because your family NEEDS your contribution. I think that feeling of being needed is something that many kids miss out on these days. I wouldn’t trade my raising for anything, and I wouldn’t change the way we raised our kids. They are all productive members of society. And we aren’t paying ANYBODY’s college loans off!

  6. Ryan, I agree with much of your observations here. I myself was raised to have an appreciation of hard-work and a job well done. I can say that it sure wasn’t easy working 3 jobs with 21 credit hours throughout college, but I did it, and would do it again.

  7. THANK YOU! I was just having this conversation with my high school kids the other day, and several had very good input. A few of them have mulitple jobs they work to pay for their car, cell phone, insurance, and gas, etc. Some have never had a job. It was interesting to hear their perspectives on this topic, but my opinion lies with yours.

    Great! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. My Grandparents were MARRIED at 12 & 14 years of age. By the time they were 20 they had three kids (and eventually a total of five). When they lost the farm in Oklahoma they packed up the family and drove a chain drive Mac truck to California on dirt roads (There were NO asphalt paved roads at the time…) They got a few acres to farm out of Banning California and grandpa “supplemented” the farm income by digging swimming pools in Palm Springs with a team of mules…
    The point is, our society (in less than 80 years) has forgotten what it takes to survive. It is one thing to have it a bit easier than the generation before you, but it would be hard to have it any easier than most people have it now, and they don’t even know it…

  9. I am 30 now, working since 16 and 2 jobs for the last 5 years. This is the same bunk they said when I was young, and my parents were young and grandparents and forever: “kids these days are lazy.” Congratulations, you’re officially O L D.
    Nevermind the fact that places I’ve seen have been hiring older unemployed people over younger new entrants to the workforce for menial work.

  10. I myself am a fresh out of high school graduate. I take offense to Mitch Daniels comment. I was raised on a dairy farm and still graduated high school while helping on the family farm. Now that I am a college student I go to college full time, have a part time job, and still help out on the family farm.

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