“Even if we get out of the crisis, maybe in four years, I’ll be 32, and then what?”

Those are Great Depression-like rates of unemployment, and there is no sign that European economies, still barely emerging from recession, are about to generate the jobs necessary to bring those Europeans into the work force soon, perhaps in their lifetimes.

Dozens of interviews with young people around the Continent reveal a creeping realization that the European dream their parents enjoyed is out of reach. It is not that Europe will never recover, but that the era of recession and austerity has persisted for so long that new growth, when it comes, will be enjoyed by the next generation, leaving this one out.

George Skivalos, 28, had to move back in with his mother two years ago in Athens. “Even if we get out of the crisis, maybe in four years, I’ll be 32, and then what?” Mr. Skivalos said. “I will have missed the opportunity to be in a company with upward mobility.”

Instead, many in the troubled south are carving out a simple existence for themselves in a new European reality. They must decide whether to stay home, with the protection of family but a dearth of jobs. Or they can travel to Europe’s north, where work is possible to find but where they are likely to be treated as outsiders. There, young people say, they compete for low-paying, temporary jobs but are sometimes excluded from the cocoon of full employment.