The Doldrums of Young America
November 8, 2009 - 1:25pm ET
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Recent data from the Department of Labor shows the national unemployment rate has climbed over 10 percent. But that number does not paint the whole picture when taking a closer look at jobless figures by age demographic. For young adults in their late teens and early twenties, unemployment figures indicate truly dismal times.
Compared to the national average, young adults face substantially higher levels of unemployment. Those 20-24 years old face unemployment at over 15 percent, for those between the ages of 18 to 19, even worse at over 25 percent.
But this just continues a trend that young adults have faced for nearly a decade.
And unemployment is taking a toll. Historically, a majority of students rely on at least part-time employment to help cover the costs of post-secondary education, but many of those jobs have dried up in the downturn.
Think having a bachelor’s degree in hand will be the ticket out? Think again. Earlier this year less than 20 percent of 2009 graduates reported finding a job by graduation. And for those lucky to land a job, average salaries are down compared to the past. In fact, the average income for college graduates has fallen since 2000 by 12 percent (adjusted for inflation). Not to leave out mentioning, as college graduates find less pay or remain unemployed, their student debt while in school rose sharply , now averaging $20,000 for graduates.
This dynamic group either entering college or joining the workforce are the seeds for America’s future success, but their dream of prosperity has wilted in these extraordinary times. The lack of employment translates to fewer opportunities to gain an education, own a home and stand on secure financial footing down the line. Hopefully these numbers will wake-up Congress and the Obama administration for the need of a long-term industrial and jobs strategy to put Generation X back to work. Now is the time for action before America's brightest and energetic turn disillusioned and a permanent blue.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future