Unemployed Young People are the Real Danger

Recently by Ian Mathias: Could Wall Street Be Any Less Popular?

“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.