The recession means a lot of folks trading down, in a sense, as they take on work they would have previously scorned. The most extreme trading could happen with new grads and young workers, as they choose their careers in "the new reality." It could actually be good for the nation's leadership.
From a look at the consequences of the recession in Foreign Policy:
Your government will get smarter... In a global recession, governments around the globe will be able to recruit a better class of bureaucrats. Just a few years ago, the U.S. government had serious recruitment problems in the Foreign Service because no world-savvy 25-year-olds wanted to work for the civil service when they could make serious cash on Wall Street. In a severe downturn, however, the stability and security of a government job look far more appealing.
That sounds terrific. All the geniuses head to Washington. The only trouble is the other consequence of recession--more government corruption, as politicians' palms get greased by desperate businesses that "prioritize survival over corporate integrity," Daniel Drezner writes.
Worst possible outcome: The brains of the nation go to work for the government and quickly lose their moral compass.