The New York Times Style section has logged another entry in its ongoing coverage of economic reality happening to young, pretty people. This time, the paper of record has focused on low-paying jobs with endless hours. Janitorial? No way, Jose — Creative! Look at these tired blue eyes stuck behind tortoise-shell glasses, hundreds of feet above the whimpering masses, stuck inside a small midtown office.
The plight of one young book publicist is typical of our ill-starred generation:
Ms. McIntyre is just one 20-something - a population historically exploitable as cheap labor - learning that long hours and low pay go hand in hand in the creative class. The recession has been no friend to entry-level positions, where hundreds of applicants vie for unpaid internships at which they are expected to be on call with iPhone in hand, tweeting for and representing their company at all hours.
Ah, pity the publicist. Wait. No, don't. Publicists are awful. Either way, enough talk, here comes the obligatory Girls reference:
The young are logging hours, too. In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers ages 20 to 24 put in just 2.1 fewer hours a week than those 25 and over. That's not a big gap of leisure for the ostensibly freewheeling time in one's life. Or, to quote Lena Dunham's 24-year-old aspiring writer in "Girls," "I am busy trying to become who I am."
Now cue the smart guy in the room, Ross Perlin, who actually wrote a great book about how these jobs are really only available to those privileged enough to accept getting treated like shit by a media company:
"Particularly in some rock-star professions - film and TV and publishing and media - companies are pushing the envelope to see how much they can get out of young people for how low a stipend or salary," Mr. Perlin said. "And people are desperate enough to break in to do it."
And now let's ignore what he says and focus on the fact that this system still works out for overextended, underpaid, highly educated people because they are smart and will simply pull up the ladder behind them. But they are so, so tired!
Ms. McIntyre, the book publicist, estimated that she receives 300 to 400 e-mails a day and tries to answer at least 80 percent. How does she summon the energy for this incessant typing, not to mention 16-hour days traveling with authors on tour?
"I have coffee before I leave the house, there's a Dunkin' Donuts conveniently in the subway station when I get off, and I get another coffee during the day," she said. "And they're large coffees."
Style section! It's just fuckin' with ya!