It's a lousy inheritance.
Thousands of Stanislaus County high school and college graduates are confronting a job market that's much worse than what their parents faced a generation ago.
Among Stanislaus' young adults who weren't attending school, 27 percent couldn't find a job in 2010. They were 50 percent more likely to be unemployed than their parents were at the same age in 1980, the latest census figures show.
As a result, today's 18- to 29-year-olds are much more likely to be stuck living at home after finishing their education.
More than 25,000 of Stanislaus' young adults 36 percent of their generation still reside with their parents.
Their folks had it easier when they were starting out: Back in 1980, just 22 percent of young adults still lived at home.
The so-called Great Recession is taking its toll on those ready to launch their careers and become independent grown-ups.
Pizza delivery and FedEx
George Grass, a 20-year-old Turlock High School graduate, is among those who waits fruitlessly for his phone to ring with a job offer.
Grass spent his first two years after high school delivering pizzas, working at an auto parts store and as a FedEx package handler. Now he's taking classes at the Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento, hoping to land a job as an entry-level auto technician.
"My previous jobs I quit because financially they weren't supporting me well enough. Eight hours a week just doesn't cut it," said Grass, who regularly dresses up before embarking on his seemingly never-ending job search.
Grass attends trade school and relies on college financial aid to pay his bills. Better to take classes, the thinking goes, until the storm passes.
"I rent a house in South Sac and have to pay rent, gas, all that good stuff," Grass said. "If it wasn't for financial aid, I probably would have ended up homeless or having to move."
To make extra money, Grass sells fitness and weight-loss supplements, but he wants more: "All I ask is for a chance to show what I got."
Although the job market has improved slightly since the census survey in 2010, competition for scarce jobs remains fierce, and there's a clear pecking order.
Older workers with experience take many of the best jobs, forcing more young college graduates to find work in retail or food service, jobs normally held by workers without a degree.
That leaves those with only a high school diploma in the cold, grabbing for leftovers historically reserved for dropouts.
"Youths are still struggling to get that first job or just get that interview," said Mauricio Camarena, a counselor at the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency who helps young adults find work.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate among workers 18 to 30 has fallen by about 2 percentage points in the past two years but remains almost double what it was five years ago, U.S. Department of Labor data show.
Unemployment in Stanislaus, alas, is about twice as high as the national rate.
A just released study from the Brookings Institution shows Stanislaus lagging far behind other regions when it comes to recovering from the recession. In terms of employment, it ranked Stanislaus a dismal 98 out of America's 100 largest metro areas.
Modesto Bee reporter J.N. Sbranti contributed to this report.