Great Recession “Grinds On” For American Youth

New York Times: “The US has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest.”

A demonstration by youth in the UK. The US has recently surpassed their allies in rates of youth unemployment. (Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

ByLauren McCauley
Common Dreams, May 6, 2013

Arguably one of the biggest casualties of America’s economic state is a generation of youth for whom the Great Recession painfully continues to “grind on.”

According to a New York Times op-ed by Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt, for all of Europe’s economic woes and headlines about idle youth, the US has “quietly surpassed” most rich nations in the number of young people without a job.

“Over the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest,” he writes.

(Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)As of 2011, the last period that comparative data is available, 26.2 percent of Americans between ages 25 and 34 were not working compared to 20.2 percent in Canada, 20.5 percent in Germany, 21 percent in Japan, 21.6 percent in Britain and 22 percent in France.

And with an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent, according to youth advocacy group Young Invincibles, April 2013 marked the 53rd straight month that unemployment was “double digits” for 18-29 year olds.

“Persistent youth joblessness means serious consequences for the future of our country,” cautioned Rory O’ Sullivan, Policy and Research Director at Young Invincibles.

Johns Hopkins University economist Robert A. Moffitt says the youth unemployment crisis stems from our ongoing economic slump. Despite stock market gains and misleading claims that the US is now in the clear, those hardest hit by the recession continue to see little relief.

Leonhardt writes:

“Employers are particularly reluctant to add new workers — and have been for much of the last 12 years. Layoffs have been subdued, with the exception of the worst months of the financial crisis, but so has the creation of jobs, and no one depends on new jobs as much as younger workers do. For them, the Great Recession grinds on.”

And according to the Labor Department statisticsworkers 25 to 34 years old are the only age group with lower average wages in early 2013 than in 2000.

For the many young people who sought higher learning and advanced degrees, few fared any better. A recent poll by the consulting firm Accenture found that over 40 percent of recent college graduates are working in a job that doesn’t require their degree.

Leonhardt cites as a remedy “public financing” and investment in infrastructure which “the private sector often finds unprofitable.”

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