In America, things are finally starting to look up for the millennials. Unemployment has dropped, job prospects have brightened, and the economic hangover from the recession has begun to fade.
In China, the headaches for the younger generation may have just begun.
This summer, nearly 7 million students will graduate from Chinese universities — a record high. Of these, only 27 percent of Beijing graduates and 30 percent of Shanghai graduates have lined up jobs — a record low.
This flood of jobless graduates joins an already-deep pool of underemployed, educated young Chinese. Over the last decade, the number of college graduates has multiplied six-fold, while the number of white-collar jobs has not kept up. According to the state-run China Youth Daily newspaper, the number of jobs available has dropped 15 percent since 2012.
In fact, those who attended university may be the worst off. Among people in their early 20s, the unemployment rate is highest among those with a college degree — over 16 percent, four times greater than those with just an elementary-school education. And as China's economy slows, multinationals like HSBC and Motorola have begun trimming their mainland workforces, exacerbating the job shortage.
Some Chinese media have taken to calling it "the hardest year in history to find a job," worse even than in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.
The government is clearly worried about the problem, and is trying to roll out job-creation measures to help the young and unemployed. As part of a package of proposed economic reforms, Premier Li Keqiang has called for making job creation a key metric in local officials' evaluations. This month, the government pledged to create 9 million urban jobs.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has also expressed urgency about millennials' plight. Earlier this month, he paid a surprise visit to a student job fair in the northern city of Tianjin.
"Employment is the basis of people's livelihood," he said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. "Without economic growth, the employment issue can't be solved."
Beijing officials are perhaps particularly sensitive to the dissatisfactions of the young and educated — after all, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were led by disaffected university students.
(Read More: Outlook for China's Economy Just Keeps Getting Worse)
For those who have landed jobs, life is sometimes still not easy. A recent work-related death has once again called attention to the plight of young employees driven to the edge in cutthroat firms.