In the months before his election, Donald Trump said that the United States unemployment rate could be as high as 42 percent. Even under the grimmest alternative ways to calculate U.S. employment, that probably wasn’t true. The rosier picture painted by Democrats and former President Obama, however, also fails to tell the full story.
Today, the current officially recognized United States unemployment rate is 4.9 percent. While it’s certainly not reflective of an economy at full employment, it’s a far cry from the dark days of 2008 when the figure briefly hit 10 percent.
The truth between Trump’s dystopia and Obama’s roses in fact lies somewhere in the middle. There is no doubt that, today, the real unemployment rate is higher than 4.9 percent because the current Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology does not factor into account workers who are unemployed but who are no longer actively seeking employment (also known as discouraged workers), or people who are severely underemployed. Indeed, many studies have shown that many of the new employment gains have come at the very bottom of the work ladder in hourly service industry or retail work.
Get a career head start
With older generations who are unwilling or unable to retire and more and more jobs being lost to outsourcing and automation, millennials especially would do well to consider getting their careers start abroad.
Believe it or not, unless you were in STEM, your most valuable commodity is probably nothing you learned in school. In fact, it’s English. I don’t mean Shakespeare English, but the basic English you speak every day throughout the day. As the global language of business, English is a tremendous asset in the non-English speaking world. For many areas, particularly in Asia, demand for native-speakers is hotter than ever. Parents, schools and businesses are willing to shell out big money for English training, which more often than not just takes the form of talking to people conversationally.
The richness of life abroad
In addition to a quick job with good pay, living and working abroad brings with it tremendous ancillary benefits, if you can avoid the cheap temptations. China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East or South America would all afford you the opportunity to learn a new commercially important language direct from the local population which could be tremendously handy when returning to the United States. In addition to that, the benefits of living and working among a foreign people and culture are enormously valuable, as multiculturalism won’t be going away anytime soon. Being aware and tolerant of cultures — sometimes radically different from your own — is a skill that cannot be overstated and too often is lacking in the less diverse places within the United States.
Finally, teaching English, or picking coconuts or helping out at an NGO can allow people the space to develop themselves and figure out where their true skills and passions lie. Asia, Africa and South America are places where you can stumble into work you never knew existed and discover a whole new meaning to your existence.
And if all else fails — you’ll at least have a killer Instagram account.
Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.
Header image: Shutterstock