We Should Be Very Worried About the Drop in Millennial Unemployment

This post originally appeared in PolicyMic.

By Rory O’Sullivan co-authored with Tom Allison.

The economy added 162,000 jobs in July as the unemployment rate fell from 7.6% in June to 7.4%. The unemployment rate for 18- to 29 year-olds also declined in July to 11.4% from 12% in June. For younger workers, ages 16 to 24, the unemployment rate fell to 15.6% from 16.3% last month.

The numbers look promising, but are actually disappointing. It turns out that the millennial unemployment rate fell, in part, because many young people left the labor force last month discouraged from persistent lack of opportunities. There are still over 4 million unemployed millennials ages 18 to 29.

A tricky thing about the unemployment rate is how you define it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes six different unemployment metrics each month. Most economists accept that the “U-3” rate is a fair way to quantify the jobs situation in America, because it captures the proportion of people in the labor force looking for work without any job.

However, that number can underestimate the true challenge facing our generation. For example, Gallup released a report last week showing fewer 18- to 29 year-olds held full-time jobs this past June than they did in 2012, 2011, and 2010. After a slight improvement in 2011, young adults are actually working full-time at a lower rate today than they were in 2010, one year after the recession officially ended.

Gallup calls the chronic lack of full-time work for young adults a “growing crisis” because full-time employment provides the financial stability to start a family or buy a home. Part time work also pays less, offers fewer experiences and skills, and provides fewer opportunities for advancement. The prevalence of part time work could have long-term career consequences for our generation.

The youth unemployment rate released today is a good metric to measure youth unemployment, but it counts part-time workers even if they were looking for more work. Advocates for youth jobs need to keep in mind that even if the youth unemployment rate declines, the trend in full-time employment for young people needs to be addressed as well.

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, and I don’t Feel Particularly Fine

By Angela Perry

The summer when I was 17, I spent an entire day memorizing the words to R.E.M.’s song It’s The End Of The World, and I’m still able to sing them with some accuracy at late night dive bar karaoke. I share this not to brag, nor to reveal how much free time my 17-year-old self had on her hands, but because that song has been playing in my head the last few weeks on repeat. You see, I am about to begin my last year of law school, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

I have been a career academic for the last decade, first getting my BA in 2008, then a Master’s in 2010, and now I’m rounding it out with a JD in 2014. I thought that all my education would make me super employable, but every graduation seems to deposit me in a worse job market than the last. Law seems to have been a particularly bad choice in terms of job prospects: despite the fact that most people think of law as a sure-fire ticket to middle class comfort, it turns out that the profession has undergone some serious changes in the last 15 years, and there simply aren’t enough jobs for the number of students graduating from law school.

Without question, young people all over the country are facing these hard facts:

But as someone who is closer to 30 than to 20, I am especially beginning to feel the pressure to get a job. In an over-saturated profession, in an already bad job market, and carrying more than $100,000 in debt, I’ll admit to being a little apprehensive about all this grown up business.

It’s a difficult time for young people, and we’re facing challenges that previous generations haven’t confronted. As one author said, in previous generations receiving a BA made the world your oyster; “[f]or millennials with a degree, the world is a ‘bad lobster in a dark cellar.’” And especially for “boomerang” millennials like me, it can feel like insult has been added to injury. With only a year left in school, and no real light at the end of the tunnel, it really does feel like it’s the end of the world. At the end of the day, I’m left asking the same question so many other young people are asking: We’re here, so what do we do now?

Young Invincibles was started so people like you and me could share these types of stories, because our voices are stronger together. Have your own story to share? YI wants to hear it.

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Summer Solstice and The Decrease of The Summer Job

By Ben Tumin

June 21st is my mom’s birthday, the best day of the entire year after my own birthday. Why? In addition to thinking very highly of my mother, her birthday is the longest day of the year and the official kickoff for summer. Summer is the season for barbeques, swimming in vibrant bathing suits, and … summer jobs?

People may still be lighting up their grills this season, but high summer employment rates for many members of our generation are a thing of the past.

With students on summer vacation, you might think that more young people are employed during the summer. Students need to work during the summer to save up money for the school year, right?

Unfortunately, not so many succeed in finding jobs. Over the decade, there has been trend of low youth employment in July, with a record low in 2010 and small increases in 2011 and 2012.

In 2010, the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics gave some possible explanations for the low summer employment trend:

  • More competition over entry-level jobs that were once available to students;
  • Fewer federally funded summer jobs were available;
  • With fewer jobs around, more students chose to study so that when it was their turn to graduate they would be able to grab the entry-level jobs that aren’t available to them now.

Those trends are likely to stick around this year. Unemployment rates among young people are still high, and sequestration eliminated even more jobs.

What impact do you think the decrease in summer employment will have on our generation?


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Millennials and the Need for Public Transportation: Welcome to Duluth!

By Adrianne Burke

I use public transportation regularly. In fact, I pretty much rely on public transportation (or walking, now that the weather warm), and I couldn’t imagine it not being an option for me. But I live in DC, where I never have to ask, “How am I ever going to get there?”

If there weren’t public transportation options in the DC area, I and countless other locals would lose access to a significant portion of available job opportunities, and this is exactly what’s happening in the suburbs of Atlanta, where Young Invincibles spent some time recently talking about youth unemployment.

Duluth: Life in the Sprawl

Atlanta has a pretty substantial public transportation system, but the further from the city you live, the more difficult is it is to find regular public transportation. Duluth, home of the Goodwill – North Georgia, a stop in our ongoing national youth jobs tour, is actually more than 25 miles outside of Atlanta; and public transportation in the city is extremely limited, if it even exists at all.

Like many Goodwills, this site offers substantial jobs training programs. Programs vary by center, but Goodwill’s North Georgia center has a program designed specifically to help youth and young adults make it in today’s job market.

When we talked to program participants about their experiences, they were confident in their ability to develop the skills needed to be competitive in the workforce.  However, external challenges such as transportation played a major role in their confidence of being able to sustain long-term employment.

A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited research by the Brookings Institute that highlighted correlation between public transportation and employment.

  • 88% of the region’s poor lives in suburbs, less than a third of suburban residents have access to transit
  • Only 17% the region’s jobs are within a 90-minute commute

When you live in a state where 20% of young people are unemployed, you can assume that public transportation has significant impact on youth unemployment.

For example, one young man at Goodwill’s North Georgia’s youth program was recently offered a new job working in the mail delivery industry.  Unfortunately, he had to decline the position because the commute involved him walking on highways and busy streets for more than an hour – and it was deemed too unsafe by the Goodwill. The position also required that he have reliable transportation, and since he can’t afford a car, his job opportunities are limited to his own neighborhood.

We have lots more to report from Atlanta, but one thing became very clear on our trip to Duluth: solutions to the youth unemployment crisis facing Georgia and our nation will require a multi-faceted approach.

Have you ever experienced so much difficulty getting to a job that you had to consider quitting? Sound off in the comment section.

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New Unemployment Rate: Millennial Joblessness Jumps to 11.6%, and That’s Bad News If You’re Looking For Work

By Rory O’Sullivan & Brian Burrell

Last month, the economy added 175,000 jobs while the national unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6% from 7.5% last month. For millennials ages 18 to 29, the unemployment rate rose from 11.1% in April 2013 to 11.6% in May 2013 (not seasonally adjusted), according to Generation Opportunity, wiping out the previous month’s gains. For younger workers ages 16 to 24, the unemployment rate rose .2 percentage points to 16.3% (seasonally adjusted).

This is bad news heading into June. Summer is a time when many younger adults get their first jobs. Early work experience is vital not just for earning a little spending money, but also for building a successful career down the road. Moreover, the country as a whole benefits from higher individual wages because it means more taxes paid and less reliance on public benefits.

However, the dismal youth job market continues to deny our generation essential opportunities – and teens are among the hardest hit. Since the start of the recession in 2008, teen unemployment has remained well over 20%, and it’s not looking good going into summer this year. Right now, 16 to 19 year olds face a 24.1% unemployment rate. Worse still, this figure only takes into account teens who are looking for jobs, ignoring discouraged teens who have stopped looking for work entirely. The true teen jobless rate is much higher. Rampant teen unemployment threatens serious long-term consequences for the future of the country.

The Economic Policy Institute recently took a look at how teen unemployment affects communities across the country. See how your state stacks up by visiting their interactive map.

If you want to do something about the problem, come join us at Young Invincibles. We’re working with job training programs across the country to educate people about the ongoing youth employment crisis and the solutions available to solve it.

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Gone Missing: The American Dream

This post originally appeared in PolicyMic, authored by Brian Burrell and Rory O’Sullivan

The official jobs numbers came out this morning showing that the economy added a disappointing 88,000 jobs and unemployment fell slightly in March to 7.6% from 7.7% in February. Millennials, age 18-to-29, saw their unemployment rate fall as well, from 12.4% last month to 11.7% in March (not seasonally adjusted). However, the actual news is much worse than it appears. The decline in unemployment largely reflected a drop in job prospects as many younger workers simply left the labor force.

In other words, our generation has a long way to go. Unemployment for the youngest workers ages 16 to 24 remains twice the national average. Moreover, recent economic news highlights a worrying trend: depressed wages, decreased job opportunities, and higher unemployment, and a generation with less wealth than their parents at the same age. The massive recent cuts to education and job training included as part of the sequester will, of course, only make the problem worse.

Declining Wealth

recent report by the Urban Institute found that GenY has less wealth than their parents did at the same age. High youth unemployment surely contributes to this trend. Further, adjusted for inflation, median wages fell by over $2,000 for 25-34 year olds since 1974, despite rapidly increasing student debt and living costs.

The paltry wealth accumulation for millennials is disturbing, as average household wealth has doubled for America as a whole. Again, our generation appears to have been left behind. Decreased wealth isn’t just bad for our generation though. America could see slowed economic growth, increased economic uncertainty, and decreased entrepreneurial activity because less people are saving money. It’s no wonder nearly half of our generation fears that they will be less well off than their parents.

A National Youth Jobs Campaign

There is a way forward. To put youth unemployment on the public agenda and push for real solutions, Young Invincibles (YI) launched a campaign this month to Get the Facts about youth employment. We’ll be releasing reports on youth unemployment in all 50 states. We’ll also be doing a National Youth Jobs Tour to visit effective youth job training programs in 15 communities that are giving young workers the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century economy. This fall, YI will also release a series of detailed policy proposals on ways to create more youth jobs, expand programs that work, and support new, innovative models for economic development. Follow along to see if YI will be visiting your community and help us share the facts on youth unemployment!


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In Focus: Youth Unemployment in Florida

By Gonzalo Valdes

With unemployment numbers on a downturn and the stock market setting all time highs, is the recession finally over? This week, Young Invincibles is visiting beautiful North Miami Beach to get a more in depth look at this situation.

Gorgeous weather. Exotic beaches. Celebrities, models, actors, and actresses. These are the people who have chosen to make Miami their backyard. So being from this culturally diverse, luxurious city has to be incredible – right?

Not so much.

Welcome to North Miami Beach, a lovely area to the northern end of the Miami-Dade county border. All the perks that lured Lebron to SoBe are certainly there: diversity, beaches, beauty. All of the perks, except one: a well-paying job. Especially if you happen to be young.

Fritz Gerald Molien fills out a job application for an opening with Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins on November 15, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

First a little background information…

  • The unemployment rate for the state of Florida is 7.8%, slightly above the national average, but when we look closer at these numbers a disturbing trend emerges.
  • For example, Black young adults in Florida face a 23.4% unemployment rate.

But, there’s more…

  • The median income for 25 to 34 year-olds fell by over $3,500 since 2008.

  • The proportion of young workers ages 18 to 24 with full-time jobs is down double digits since 2006.
  • The proportion of young people ages 18 to 24 working at all in Florida fell by double digits since 2006.

The numbers tell us people aren’t getting jobs – and don’t even count those who have not recently sought a job, or who are under-employed, (thank some braniac economist for that).  It all adds up to paint a grim picture for youth.

So where are young people supposed to turn?

Last week, we headed to North Miami, staying positive, and highlighting Forward March – a program that helps connect young people with advisors who will coach them on necessary life skills that will help in the job hunt.

Forward March provides young adults with key work-readiness instruction in critical areas such as computer literacy and critical thinking, enabling learners to acquire and develop skills vital to strong candidacies and lasting success in the workplace.

Through targeted instruction and a favorable student-to-teacher ratio, learners explore career options, analyze local job markets, and enhance their candidacies. They learn best practices in resume and cover letter authorship, interviewing techniques, and negotiating tactics.

The growing unemployment crisis has the potential to devastate an entire generation of adolescents.

But we need to stay positive and invest in more programs like these.  So will you join us as we march forward in the fight for more opportunities and better education for the youth of this country?

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Sneak Peek: YI is Out to Save Youth Jobs

By Erin Hemlin

Did you know that the unemployment rate of young people was 16.3% last month? That’s more than twice the national average.

Although the youth unemployment numbers are brutal, Young Invincibles is determined to do something about it. Some of you may remember our National Youth Bus Tour from last year, where we visited 42 cities in 20 states and spoke with young Americans of every creed and color, to find out what issues are most important to them. As it turns out, young people at every level, post-high school, in college, and post-college, are preoccupied with one major concern: finding a j-o-b.

This spring, YI is embarking on another great adventure: finding superb job training facilities across the nation and bringing their great work to the attention of the public. Our Get The Facts About Youth Unemployment tour will target the best programs in the nation, highlight the successes of young people, and help spread the word about models that work.

Young Invincibles

Young Invincibles on the Campaign for Young America bus tour.

On the bus tour, we got a taste of great job training programs when we met with Focus Hope. We met participants who were learning job and life skills to help elevate themselves from a life with few options; with the guidance of Focus Hope, they obtain a GED, job training and even counseling.  The skills they develop help participants to gain valuable and employable qualities all while giving back to the community.

Our First Stop Will Be…

The Miami Beach Workforce Center, where young Floridians are learning skills from how to create a resume, to how to find employment opportunities for veterans, as well as how teens can find employment that fit their academic schedules. These young people are benefiting not only by learning basic skills, some are turning their lives around, gaining confidence, and escaping a life of poverty.

Amazingly, these social benefits come at very small cost to taxpayers, and the return on the investment is monumental.

As a country, we can invest in what’s working. Instead of cutting funding for youth job training, we can invest more money in programs, some of which pay back more than two dollars for every dollar spent. http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/Publications/PDFs/01-jcbenefit.pdf

The GET THE FACTS ABOUT YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT tour will be in full swing by the end of March. If you know of a great job-training program in your area you think we should visit, please call 202-534-3560 or email me at erin.hemlin@younginvincibles.org.

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