赤字のthe pavement-pounding youthに注目します。辞書を瞥見すると、pavement-poundingのかたちでは記載されていません。そこで、pavementの項を見てみます。LDOCE 5ですと、第４義にpound/hit the pavementのかたちで載っております。定義は"to work very hard to get something, especially a job, by going to a lot of different places"とあります。つまり、the pavement-pounding youth of past decadesとは「職を得ようと探しまわった何十年か前の若者達」という意味を捉えることができそうです。
He spent the next six months pounding the pavement in search of a job.
A GROUP of 17- and 18-year-olds assembled in their lunch hour at a diverse London school offers a cross-section of political views. Some are more left-wing than others; some are more apathetic. But they are not as different as they seem. When pushed to describe their politics, they agree that the state’s primary role is to protect individual freedom. For them, social and moral causes such as gay rights and sex equality loom larger than things like welfare and health. Asked whether any had joined recent protests against government spending cuts, they respond with raised eyebrows, laughter and effusive denials. One admits to going, “but only for a look.” The pavement-pounding youth of past decades this is not.
Predictably, that translates into a tolerance for social and cultural difference. Polls show that the young are more relaxed than others about drugs, sex, alcohol, euthanasia and non-traditional family structures. They dislike immigration, but not as strongly as do their elders. And they are becoming ever more liberal. The BSA has tracked attitudes for three decades. It shows that the young are now far more tolerant of homosexuality, for example, than were previous generations at the same age.