The Idled Young Americans?

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Depressing article from the NYT: The Idled Young Americans.

For all of Europe’s troubles — a left-right combination of sclerotic labor markets and austerity — the United States has quietly surpassed much of Europe in the percentage of young adults without jobs. It’s not just Europe, either. 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.

The grim shift — “a historic turnaround,” says Robert A. Moffitt, a Johns Hopkins University economist — stems from two underappreciated aspects of our long economic slump. First, it has exacted the harshest toll on the young — even harsher than on people in their 50s and 60s, who have also suffered. And while the American economy has come back more robustly than some of its global rivals in terms of overall production, the recovery has been strangely light on new jobs, even after Friday’s better-than-expected unemployment report. American companies are doing more with less.

I remember when I visited France in grad school noting the depressing statistics surrounding employment for young people. I would not have thought that America would be head that direction let alone surpass Europe. Ugh.

The piece ends with this interesting and, I guess, encouraging, note:

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the jobs slump is that the Americans in their 20s and 30s who have been most affected by it remain decidedly upbeat. They are much more hopeful than older generations, polls show, that the country’s future will be better than its past.

Based on what younger adults have been through, that resilience is impressive. It’s probably necessary, too. The jobs slump will not end without a large dose of optimism.

Ouch.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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