Younger Americans Going Abroad for Work

With unemployment hovering around 9 percent and the country plummeting into an attitude of defeat, a growing number of Americans have opted to bail out of the American dream and search for a life abroad.

The United States has typically been thought of as the land that attracted the best minds from around the world who wanted to take part in the American Experiment – and, to some degree it still is. Gallup released a poll in June which ranked the U.S. as the top desired destination for adults who would like to migrate. About 23 percent of the potential migrants surveyed by Gallup listed the U.S. as their top desired place to live.

At the same time, however, the Department of State now estimates that 6.3 million U.S. citizens are studying or working abroad. This is the highest recorded number in American history.

According to Reuters, the economic woes that the U.S. is facing makes it much less of a magnet for young, intelligent minds.

America Wave, a marketing consultant organization that has tracked the trend of Americans contemplating relocating to other countries since 2005, says that 40 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have expressed interest in moving to a foreign country. This a 15 percent increase from two years ago.

“This is a dangerous time for the United States, and not just because of the lingering Great Recession. Young adult Americans are packing their bags and heading out of the country in astonishing numbers. Many more are turning their minds in that direction,” wrote Bob Adams, founder of America Wave, in an article last month titled “The Great Escape.”

Adams has also written that those in the 18- to 34-year-old age group who express a desire to relocate are also among the more entrepreneurial risk-takers in the country.

“No nation is well-served if these are the people who choose to leave. They are among the most energetic and productive segments of any society, anywhere.”

Matt Landau, a 29-year-old college graduate, is in that segment of society. Landau told Reuters that he moved to Panama “in search of work, a better economy, and a more fulfilling lifestyle.” The economics major has set up a travel and investment blog and runs a boutique hotel that he helped restore.

“There's a feeling among more entrepreneurial Americans that if you really want to get anything done, you have to get out of country and away from the depressing atmosphere," Adams told Reuters. Adams also lives in Panama now.

"There's a sense of lost direction, so more people are looking for locations that offer more hope about the future."

"The U.S. has been the Land of Opportunity throughout its history. If there is one entitlement that all Americans deserve, especially the young, it is opportunity,” he added. “We can, we must and we will find the courage to face the mess we have made and clean it up. But a reputation built over decades, even centuries, can be lost in only a few years. Our young builders and business people will not wait. The older generation must not wait."