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Young America’s Job Crisis


U.S. youngsters are having a tougher time finding work than their counterparts in other wealthy, large economies. What’s going on here? In the land of plenty, shouldn’t young talent have a smorgasbord of job offerings to choose from?

Turns out, the American economy will have to create 4 million jobs before adults younger than 34 reach pre-recession employment levels. If we keep adding jobs at the current pace, it would take to 2022 to reach pre-recession employment levels.

That’s according to a recent study, called “Stuck: Young America’s Persistent Job Crisis,” by public policy organization Demos, which also found that nearly half the country’s jobless are younger than 34

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“Early adulthood is a time of change and choices,” the study’s executive summary reads. “Young people progress out of high school or college and into the work force, out of their parents’ homes and into their own households, and they face decisions about relationships, careers, ideals, and values as they embrace the goals and responsibilities that will pave the way to their futures. But for Millennials reaching this critical period of transition, time is standing still.”

As unemployment took a turn for the worse during the Great Recession, young adults with and without a college education had to compete against older, more seasoned candidates, the study notes. 

“For many young people the promises of finding a good job, starting a family, or making a better life for themselves are all on hold as they struggle to locate any opportunity in an economy that is reluctant to provide the chances necessary for forward motion,” the Demos report states. “Instead, this generation of young adults spent 2012 striving for better positioning in a labor market that pushed them toward the sidelines, resulting in historically low labor force participation rates and more economic drag.”

Some other key findings from the report:

1. Young adults made little progress in 2012
More than 5.6 million 18 to 34-year-olds willing and able to work were denied employment opportunities. Another 4.7 million young people were counted as underemployed, working part-time when they’d rather take a full-time gig. 

2. Minority workers faced higher unemployment and underemployment rates
Young Latino workers saw jobless rates 25 percent greater than those of white workers. African-American rates just about double. A quarter of African Americans looking for a job couldn’t find one in 2012, neither could one in seven Latino young adults.

3. College degrees make a big difference
Unemployment rates for those with just a high school degree clocked double compared to those with a college education. 

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What do you think about this so-called young American job crisis? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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