The Great Recession has upended millions of lives and laid bare structural weaknesses--commercial, social, governmental--in the United States and around the world. Economists are still attempting to sort out its causes and consequences; policy makers are struggling to lay a foundation for long-term growth while shoring up a fragile recovery; people across America are trying to get by and, if they can afford the luxury of thinking ahead, to gird themselves for an uncertain new era.
In the hope of helping our readers better understand these times, we are combining the editorial strengths of National Journal and The Atlantic to create a series of supplements devoted to the "next economy." With financial support from Allstate, we plan to publish these supplements quarterly; they will accompany selected subscriber issues of National Journal and The Atlantic and will also be posted on our websites.
For this inaugural issue of The Next Economy, we chose to focus on the generation that will be shaped most profoundly by the changes under way, the so-called Millennials, those Americans born between 1981 and 2002. As Ronald Brownstein writes in our cover story, this is the most diverse and educated generation in U.S. history, and among the most optimistic. But its members' high expectations are colliding with the reality of an unemployment rate that has doubled for young workers over the last three years. And as Don Peck explains in an accompanying essay, generations that enter a difficult job market often find their careers constrained for years to come.
As we will in future supplements, we attempt here to provide some guidance to readers and policy makers alike, while also trying to remain humble about judgments best left to history. If the past can be said to tap out any certain rhythm, as James Fallows writes in his back-page column, it is that more change is afoot than we can begin to imagine--most of it for the better.