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10:53 AM
Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus
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Wall Street's Young and Jobless

Pity the poor twenty-something high finance drone.

They went to the right schools, landed the right jobs and worked grinding hours for the chance to make a stellar paycheck and a jaw-dropping bonus. Life was set - am I right, bro?

Thanks to the global recession and the failure of the governments in the USA and Europe to address this crisis, the world of many post-college grads has truly turned. In an article on today's New York Times Dealbook, many laid off twenty year-olds are trying to navigate a post-employment life.

Champagne has given way to light beer and business cards from once-impressive investment banks are now a source of shame. Add in the spreading outrage of Occupy Wall Street and you have a recipe for low self-esteem and some very real soul-searching.

(Sure, it's hard to muster much sympathy for someone in their 20s who lost their six figure job at a major investment house due to this grinding recession. Try thinking about a middle-aged couple who have seen their factories shut down and now are lucky to make minimum wage at Walmart.)

The NY Times Dealbook says this round of layoffs on Wall Street - some estimates are as high as 200,000 - will not see any lift for a few years. And the focus of many job cuts has been on the newbies:

Much of the burden of Wall Street's latest retrenchment has fallen on young financiers. The number of investment bank and brokerage firm employees between the ages 20 and 34 fell by 25 percent from the third quarter of 2008 to the same period of 2011, a loss of 110,000 jobs from layoffs, attrition and voluntary departures.

Two months ago, associate editor Justin Grant and I looked into the recent wave of layoffs and spoke with a Wall Street IT headhunter. She was, to say the least, blunt about the prospects of today's unemployed from the financial district.

Just because you're a trader on the buy-side at UBS doesn't mean that Bridgewater will hire you, Homer adds. "Why are you no longer a trader? They'll ask," she insists. "If you survived these last few years and you made right decisions, they won't let you go. It's now, 'What have you done for me lately -- like today and this hour?'"

I hope this was taught in graduate school: Capitalism can be very cruel.

Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio
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