Unemployed Young People are the Real Danger

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“The real danger – economically, socially or politically
speaking – in the 1930s was loads of young men without jobs.”

It’s probably a literary no-no to quote yourself. But we begin
today with words we wrote last November not because we admire our
own work, but we because we meant it then… and it’s becoming
a reality today.

No matter which way you measure it, unemployment among Americans
aged 16–24 is now at a post-World War II high. As typical in
these kinds of stats, we’re seeing numbers all over the place…
the NY Post reported yesterday that the rate has “exploded”
to 52%, while the government’s latest tally (set to be revised
this week) has it closer to 25%. Neither stat includes students
not looking for work.

Both ends of this spectrum still mark the highest youth unemployment
rate since at least 1948, when the government started keeping track.
That’s especially interesting given the “official”
unemployment rate for the total population – a 26-year high
of 9.7%.

This has the Obama administration worried enough to shell out $1.2
billion – an earmark in the stimulus bill which has (if anything)
only kept the situation from getting REALLY ridiculous. In the meantime,
the masses of disgruntled youth swell by the day. How dangerous
is that in modern times? Ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Why do our youth have it so tough? For starters, competition for
jobs is at a record high. Here’s a worthy alternative way to
examine our jobs crisis:

There are 14.5 million officially unemployed people in the United
States and 2.5 million job openings. In other words, for every six
people looking for work, there is one job to fill – not counting
those already employed who are looking for a new gig. And we hasten
to add, these are Labor Department numbers… if the reality
were twice as bad, it’d be no surprise.

So pity the youth. That English Lit degree might be useful one
day, but not up against five other rsums with real work experience.
Summer internships are over, and all that’s left are a few
hourly, low-wage gigs. According to Northwestern University, half
of college grads under 25 that do hold jobs are working in a position
that doesn’t require a degree – also the highest portion
on record.

Our biggest fear is that these jobless youths lose all hope and
make the ultimate mistake – law school.

September
29, 2009

Ian Mathias
is managing editor of The
5 Min. Forecast
and AgoraFinancial.com.
Since working for Agora Financial, respected media outlets including
Forbes.com, the Associated Press, Yahoo, and MSN Money have syndicated
his writing. He received his BA from Loyola College in Maryland
and is currently studying writing at the graduate level.

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