New Report: The Unemployment Rate Is Dropping For Millennials, But So Are Career Prospects and Salaries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 4, 2014

CONTACTS:
Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org 202–734-6529
Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org 214-223-2913

Washington, D.C. – Young Invincibles has released a new report, titled Where Young Adults Work, that takes an unprecedented look at labor force and wage trends and their impact on Millennials. The report provides a provocative snapshot of promising job sectors for young adults to embrace and shrinking industries to avoid, and also examines job sector value for Millennials by geography.

The report finds that young adults, ages 25 to 34 years-old, are landing jobs in low-wage industries traditionally held by younger Millennials.

“Despite the unemployment rate dropping, our report finds too many Millennials are struggling in low-wage sectors that may not set them up for careers that provide financial security. With Millennials expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, legislators must work to align our higher education system with new demands in the workforce,” according to report authors Tom Allison and Konrad Mugglestone.

The report includes maps and charts — in addition to quantitative analysis — that comes from the U.S. Census’s 2014 Current Population Survey. Please be in touch if you would like to speak with a report author. We are happy to provide data sets, along with discussing our findings.

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Racial Disparities in Millennial Unemployment Rate Widen Despite Improved Overall Rate for Young Adults

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 7, 2014

Contact: Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org, 585.746.8281

[WASHINGTON]— As the national unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.8 percent and the economy added 214,000 jobs in October, the unemployment rate for 18 to 34 year-olds dipped slightly to 8.2 percent from 8.6 percent in September (seasonably adjusted). However, the gap between the unemployment rate for white young adults and black young adults widened.

Black young adults face an unemployment rate that’s more than twice as high as their white peers, 15.8 percent compared to 6.5 percent, respectively. We’d like to see the next Congress pass policies that could change this. As our recent report – Closing the Race Gap – showed, there are several policies that could help narrow these disparities.

For older Millennial workers, aged 25 to 34, the employment-population ratio — or the percent of the age group with jobs — increased to 76.2 percent, its highest level since December 2008.

October chart

Here is more information on how different populations of young adults fared relative to the overall workforce in October 2014.

• The unemployment rate for Black/African American young adults ages 18 to 34 in October is 15.8 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down from 16.2 percent in September.

• The unemployment rate for Hispanic/Latino young adults ages 18 to 34 in September is 8.0 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down from 8.8 percent in September.

• The unemployment rate for white young adults ages 18 to 34 in September is 6.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), up from 7.2 percent in September.

Please be in touch if you would like to speak with one of our Millennial policy experts.

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Jobs Report Shows Racial Disparities in Job Market Persist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 3, 2014

CONTACT:
Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org 202–734-6529
Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org 214-223-2913

“We know that young African Americans get more value from education in terms of improved job prospects, so we must expand educational opportunities for young African Americans”

[WASHINGTON] – Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“While today’s unemployment rate of 6.1% is welcome news for the economy, when you break down the jobs numbers, it’s clear young adults are significantly struggling to enter the job market. Young adults, aged 18 to 34, fared far worse with an unemployment rate of 9% and the disparities by race are even more appalling.

Young African Americans, aged 18 to 34, face an unemployment rate that’s more than twice the rate of their white peers: 16.7% to 7.6%, respectively. We know that young African Americans get more value from education in terms of improved job prospects, so we must expand educational opportunities for young African Americans; bolstering the Pell Grant would be a good first step.”

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Employment Gains Continue to Bypass Minority Youth, Despite Improved Youth Unemployment Rate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 2, 2014

Contact: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org214.223.2913

Employment Gains Continue to Bypass Minority Youth, Despite Improved Youth Unemployment Rate

1 in 5 Young Black Workers Continue to Be Unemployed

[WASHINGTON]— As the national unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent and the economy added 288,000 jobs in April, the unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year-olds declined to 9.1 percent from 10.9 percent in March (not seasonably adjusted). For younger workers, ages 16 to 24, the unemployment rate also fell slightly to 12.8 percent from 14.5 percent in March (seasonally adjusted).

“We know that education and job training are the keys to bringing down young adult unemployment rates, as workers with a post-secondary credential have higher job placement rates than high school graduates,” said Rory O’Sullivan, Deputy Director at Young Invincibles. “To help close the minority youth unemployment gap, Congress should take the Pell Grant off the chopping block, make the aid permanent, and invest in job training for our generation. These solutions connect minority youth to the workforce and are a smart investment for all American taxpayers.”

‪According to TICAS, more than 60 percent of African-American ‪undergraduates and half of Hispanic undergraduates rely on Pell Grants to attend school. Earlier this year, Young Invincibles released In This Together, a new report quantifying the losses realized by federal and state taxpayers due to high young adult unemployment .

Here is more information on how different populations of young people fared in April 2014:

• The unemployment rate for Black young adults ages 16 to 24 in April is 21.4 percent compared to 23.6 percent last month (not seasonally adjusted).

• The unemployment rate for young Latinos ages 16 to 24 in April is 11.6 percent – it was 13.8 percent last month (not seasonally adjusted).

• The unemployment rate for young men ages 16 to 24 in April is 14.3 percent compared to 16 percent last month (seasonally adjusted).

• The unemployment rate for young women ages 16 to 24 in April is 11.2 percent compared to 12.9 percent last month (seasonally adjusted).

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Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo. Follow us on Twitter at @YI_Care.

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College grads in Volusia, Flagler face challenges parents never did

Daytona Beach Journal-News

By: Lacey McLaughlin

Sharlatay Willis printed out a stack of resumes and hopped on her bike for another day of job searching. Taking care to prevent her gray dress slacks from getting tangled in her bike chain, the 23-year-old Bethune-Cookman University graduate peddled to a strip mall on Nova Road.

Willis introduced herself and handed her resume to managers at Family Dollar, Save-a-Lot, Burlington Coat Factory and Steak n’ Shake, but they all directed her to apply online where she worries her application will fall into a black hole.

The English major graduated in December with hopes of landing a job as a magazine writer or writing coach for students. But after months of dead ends and no reliable income, Willis said she would be happy to land a part-time service job.

“It gets kind of frustrating because I spent four years working so hard for a college degree and here I am struggling to find a retail job,” said Willis, who has $30,000 in student loans. “I wanted that dream job right out of college. I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.”

Lingering unemployment and student loan debt are creating additional worries for college graduates who are entering a job market that has fewer opportunities than previous generations. An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York two years ago showed 44 percent of recent college graduates — age 22 to 27 — were working in jobs that did not require degrees.

While jobs reports point to a modest recovery and news of new development locally is encouraging, real wages remain stagnant and good jobs are hard to find. Investing in a college degree has traditionally led to higher long-term economic benefits, but the current economic climate raises questions about the financial future of millennials, especially for those like Willis who have degrees in low-demand majors, such as liberal arts and social sciences.

“There is an across-the-board issue here that has led graduates to take positions below what they are qualified for,” said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida. “Every year that you are working a retail job and not in a degree-related field is a year of experience and human capital that you can’t get back.”

Georgia native Jana Lott moved to Daytona Beach with her college roommate after graduating from St. Leo University on Florida’s west coast with a professional writing degree last May. She aspires to work for a publishing company, but after months of job searching she felt relieved when Kmart hired her for a cashier’s position in October.

Realizing that her 20-hour-a-week job won’t be enough to pay off $125,000 in student loans and cover her living expenses, the 23-year-old moved back home with her mother in Jacksonville when her lease ended this month. Lott said she had been applying for about 20 career-related jobs each week but has taken a break because she feels burned out.

“By the time I am 27, I hope to be working in my career field,” Lott said. “I have never looked at what I should be making. Money isn’t a huge factor to me. I just want to do something I enjoy.”

Research indicates that young adults like Lott may never financially catch up to college graduates who started their careers shortly after graduation.

A new report by the Young Invincibles, a post-recession youth advocacy group, predicts that each jobless worker age 18 to 24 accounts for $4,100 a year in forgone tax revenue and social benefits.

Young Invincibles Policy and Research Manager Tom Allison, who co-authored the report “No End in Sight? The Long-Term Youth Jobs Gap and What it Means for America,” said that the shrinking of middle-class jobs and the burden of student loans create economic barriers for many recent graduates. His organization is pushing for the U.S. Department of Education to release data that tracks college graduates and majors to show who’s getting hired and their starting salaries, in addition to pushing for legislation that would reduce college tuition rates.

“There is a national debate over whether a college degree is working or not,” Allis said. “On average, it completely is. You can expect a million dollars more in life-term earnings with a degree. But there needs to be a shift with transparency and accountability. There needs to be more of a demand from consumers to get a better idea of what the value of a degree is.”

Milestones like becoming a homeowner or reaching retirement are far from Lott’s current worries. She believes the right job is out there and it’s just a matter of time before she finds it.

“I have a lot of friends who get pressure from their parents to just take any job they can find,” Lott said. “I think some people get pushed into jobs they don’t want, and I’m not just going to take a job to get a paycheck.”

Willis, who is from Miami, started looking for jobs in November but said she seldom received a response from publications or schools. When her 20-hour-a-week job on campus ended upon graduation, Willis started looking for any job that would provide a steady income.

“I want to stay in Daytona and find a job. Back at home there’s a lot of trouble that I don’t want to get into and the area is bad when it comes to crime,” Willis said. “Once I get set financially, I hope to go further north and move to a bigger city.”

When she was younger, Willis said her parents pushed her to do well in school and go to college. Her mother, a school bus driver, and father, a car mechanic, told their daughter they wanted her to have more opportunities than they had.

Now Willis has $30,000 in student loans and is struggling to find an opportunity as good as her parents had. She said she is considering going to graduate school if she is unable to find a job in her field by next year but worries about piling up more debt.

Graduates with social science and liberal arts degrees are faring worse in this economy, but the job market has become more competitive as graduates face higher demands from employers, Snaith at UCF said.

In 2010, the national unemployment rate for recent college graduates was about 5 percent and that rate has now climbed to 7 percent. The Federal Reserve Bank study, however, points out that those with college degrees that provide technical training are more likely to be working in their field. For example, 75 percent of those with an engineering degree are working in a job that requires a college degree. The two majors with the lowest unemployment rates are health and education majors.

Willis supports herself through baby-sitting jobs and splits her meager living expenses with roommates. With her bike as her only form of transportation, she cycles to Bethune-Cookman’s campus in Daytona Beach from her Port Orange apartment during the week. On campus, she conducts online job searches and mentors students at the university’s writing center. She also bikes to retail stores along her route to pass out her resume and inquire about jobs.

Her search took a big setback recently when her cellphone fell out of her pocket on the ride home and was never recovered. With no money to replace the phone, Willis found an app that allows her to receive calls and text messages on a tablet, but she is often unable to receive voicemails and the reception is spotty. A missed call could be a missed opportunity.

“Either I am under-qualified for a lot of these jobs or I’m overqualified,” Willis said. “I think there are a lot of different aspects that aren’t giving me the opportunity I want. I feel like I have put a lot of work to get to where I am at and I’m going to have to keep putting in work.”

Willis still hasn’t gone on an interview despite applying for more than a dozen jobs. She is saving her baby-sitting money to pay $150 for a temporary teaching certificate so she can be eligible to work with students at local schools. As she continues to search for service jobs, Willis said she often worries about living so close to the edge. She can’t afford health insurance and receives food stamps to buy groceries. While she is optimistic about her future, the lack of responses from employers is starting to take its toll.

“It’s starting to feel draining because I’m not getting any responses,” she said. “It gets frustrating but I’m still pushing forward.”

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Mishory: We need solutions that invest in young people

CBS News

By: Stephanie Condon

The Labor Department on Friday reported a solid 192,000 jobs were added to the economy in March. The uptick in jobs was generally good news, but the Republican National Committee spotlighted one group still lagging: young adults.

While the overall unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent, the unemployment rate for 20-24 year-olds increased from 11.9 percent to in February to 12.2 percent in March. For workers ages 16 to 24, the unemployment rate rose marginally to from 14.4 percent in February 14.5 percent.

“Young people propelled Obama to office, but have not seen any benefits from his agenda,” Republican National Committee spokesman Raffi Williams said in a statement. “The latest youth unemployment figures show how Obama’s policies of higher taxes, increased regulations and, most importantly, ObamaCare have stunted Millennials economic opportunity.”

The left-leaning group Young Invincibles said the proposals put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would only exacerbate the problem.

“Young adults continue to face unemployment rates twice the national average, so cuts like those proposed in the House Budget Committee’s FY2015 budget undermine our generation’s chance at getting a job and climbing the ladder of economic mobility,” Jen Mishory, the group’s deputy director, said in a statement. “We need solutions that invest in young people and connect them to the workforce, like increasing apprenticeships and an expansion of AmeriCorps.”

President Obama last specifically addressed youth unemployment in the context of the European economy, during a press conference last month in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

“One of the tragedies of high youth unemployment is that when young people don’t have a strong attachment to the labor market early, that can continue for the rest of their careers and they never fully recoup what’s lost in terms of their potential earnings and their ability to advance in the labor market,” Mr. Obama said.

With respect to the Labor Department’s latest report, White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday called it “pretty encouraging.” Since the recession started at the outset of the Obama administration, the nation has made “a ton of progress,” he said, adding that “we’re not going to rest on our laurels.”

“There is so much work that needs to be done to expand economic opportunity for everybody,” Earnest said.

Democrats in Congress used the report to push their economic and political agenda, which focuses on pocketbook issues like raising the minimum wage.

“This continued job growth is encouraging, but we need to do more to ensure that everyone in Nevada and across the country has a fair shot at the American Dream,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. “My Republican colleagues have a choice: will they join Democrats to stand with the middle class, or will they continue to stand with the Koch brothers as they try to rig our political system to benefit billionaires like themselves?”

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Young Invincibles Hails Bill to Expand Apprenticeships, Connect Young Adults to the Workforce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 9, 2014

Contact: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org, 214.223.2913

Young Invincibles Hails Introduction of Booker-Scott LEAP Act to Expand Apprenticeships, Connect Young Adults to the Workforce

Youth Unemployment Rate Is More Than Twice the National Rate

[WASHINGTON]—Today, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs “LEAP” Act, a bill designed to combat chronic, high young adult unemployment by incentivizing employers to increase the number of apprenticeships available to young people. The LEAP Act would specifically target relief for the young unemployed by granting companies a $1,500 tax credit for hiring new registered apprentices under 25 and a $1,000 tax credit for those 25 and older. It also rewards companies with existing apprenticeship programs if they expand them, particularly to those under 25.

“Making sure that young people have the skills they need to succeed in their careers is key to driving down youth unemployment and maximizing their economic opportunities,” said Rory O’Sullivan, Policy & Research Director of Young Invincibles. “Apprenticeships do just that. We know that youth unemployment costs every American, so we applaud Senators Booker and Scott for working across the aisle to combat this profound crisis.”

Earlier this year, a new report from Young Invincibles found that high youth unemployment costs federal and state governments—thanks predominantly to lost tax revenue—over $25 billion annually, representing an average annual cost of over $171 per taxpayer.

According to the March 2014 Bureau of Labor & Statistics labor report, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year-olds is 14.5 percent, whereas the national unemployment rate is 6.7 percent. The report also found that the unemployment rate among young black workers is a staggering 23.6 percent (non-seasonally adjusted).

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Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

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Young Invincibles’ Statement on March 2014 Jobs Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 4, 2014

Contact: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org, 214.223.2913

Young Invincibles’ Statement on March 2014 Jobs Report

Young Unemployed Continue to Be Left Behind Despite Broader Job Gains

[WASHINGTON]—As the national unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent and the economy added 192,000 jobs in March, the unemployment rate for 18 to 29 year-olds dipped slightly to 10.9 percent from 11.4 percent in February (not seasonably adjusted). For younger workers, ages 16 to 24, the unemployment rate increased marginally to 14.5 percent from 14.4 percent in February (seasonally adjusted).

Jen Mishory, Deputy Director of Young Invincibles, released the following statement on this month’s jobs report:

“Young adults continue to face unemployment rates twice the national average, so cuts like those proposed in the House Budget Committee’s FY2015 budget undermine our generation’s chance at getting a job and climbing the ladder of economic mobility. We need solutions that invest in young people and connect them to the workforce, like increasing apprenticeships and an expansion of AmeriCorps.”

Here is more information on how different populations of young people fared in February 2014:

* The unemployment rate for Black young adults ages 16 to 24 in March is 23.6 percent compared to 23.5 percent in February (not seasonally adjusted).

*The unemployment rate for young men ages 16 to 24 in March is 16.0 percent compared to 16.1 percent in February (not seasonally adjusted).

*The unemployment rate for young Latino young adults ages 16 to 24 in March is 13.8 percent compared to 15.7 percent in February (not seasonally adjusted).

*The unemployment rate for young women ages 16 to 24 in March is 12.9 percent compared to 12.6 percent in February (not seasonally adjusted).

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Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

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Connecticut youth labor market remains stagnant

Middletown Press 

By: J. Brian Charles

Young adults face a grim labor market, according to recent reports that show new entrants have little access to valuable work experience.

And the bleak job picture for new entrants into the labor force is costing states like Connecticut millions of dollars in payroll taxes and social safety net benefits.

For the first time in more than 60 years, the job market shrank over the course of the last decade. The scarcity of available jobs largely affected new entrants into the workforce. The unemployment rate for 18- to 34-year-old job seekers remained higher than 10 percent for 70 consecutive months between early 2008 and the last quarter of 2013, according to an analysis of labor statistics done by Young Invincibles, a group advocating for Millennials. And according to the Brookings Institution, youth job market participation fell dramatically.

“Youth don’t currently get much experience when they get out of college. You might be lucky if you get an internship,” said Konrad Mugglestone, a research fellow with Young Invincibles and the co-author of “In This Together: The Hidden Cost of Youth Unemployment,” a new report detailing the challenges faced by younger job hunters.

“When the economy is down, if you have a choice between someone with zero experience or more years of experience, you take the person with more experience,” Mugglestone said.

Young Invincibles formed in 2009 to offer Millennials a voice in the debate over health care reform. The groups has since grown, and now is looking at the effects of the economic downturn on young adults.

Economists contend that young people’s job prospects often are suppressed by downward pressure on the labor market, a residual effect of the economic calamity of the last decade.

“There is considerable less churn in the labor market,” said Connecticut-based economist Don Klepper-Smith. “Some people are rebuilding 401(k)s (retirement funds) that got hit. There are less job opportunities because older workers are staying at their jobs longer.”

For young workers, not being able to get a toehold in the economy has long-term effects.

“The more of an employment record someone has and the greater their connectivity to the job market, the better they are going to do in life going forward,” said Pete Gioia, economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

According to the Center for American Progress, a 22-year-old man who is unemployed for six months will earn 8 percent less at age 23, and often can expect to earn $22,000 less over the course of the next decade.

Ultimately, the flagging youth labor market cost states in lost revenue and a slight increase in spending on safety net supports. Between 2010 and 2012, unemployed adults between the age of 18 and 34 cost the state of Connecticut $26,984,756.81, in mostly lost revenue and some additional social service spending, according to Young Invincible’s analysis of labor statistics.

Each Connecticut taxpayer had to chip in additional $68.82 to account for the revenues lost to youth unemployment, the seventh-highest rate in the country, according to the youth advocacy group’s study of labor statistics and the net results of youth unemployment.

The recent move by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to push the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 may have deleterious effects on low-wage workers and by extension the employment prospects on young adults.

“Maybe Walmart can absorb this, but a small pizza chain or a regional restaurant can’t deal with this,” Gioia said.

According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but could cost the economy 1 million jobs.

Higher labor costs likely will drive companies, even in the service industry, to automate, according to Gioia.

“Maybe we can get by with half the waitresses by putting tablets on the tables, and allowing customers to order their food,” he said.

The current credit market, where interest rates remain low, may speed the pace of automation.

“First, I think companies will begin to take longer-term views on what can and can’t be automated. If you are going to look at automation, the next 18 months are when you are going to take a serious look at automating because of the cost and availability of credit,” he said.

However, labor advocates say the business community continues to cry wolf about the effects of increased labor costs and the ability to automate what are often service industry jobs.

“We hear the same apocalyptic scenario every time we ask businesses for similar concessions,” said Taylor Leake, spokesman for the Connecticut Working Families Party, which pushed hard for the minimum wage increase.

Leake acknowledges the increasing trend of automation, but doesn’t expect companies to move swiftly to automate.

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Deadly myth about millennials: The dark truth about a misunderstood generation

Salon 

By: Tim Donovan

There is a demographic group in crisis today, though they’re rarely discussed. Occasionally, they’re used as a foil on conservative cable news shows, where overpaid hosts sneer derisively at their endemic “laziness.” Sometimes, members of Congress will trot them out as straw men to drum up support in rural districts.

These are not your struggling baristas with their undergraduate degrees and mountains of debt, or your former-newsmen-turned-retail-drones. They’re not “overeducated and underemployed.” No, this demographic group, the undereducated and underemployed, are in far more dire straits. This subset of millennials might not look like the “Gen Y” that’s commonly portrayed in the media — this site included. They aren’t the duck-faced “Rich Kids of Instagram,” the Lena Dunhams or the Mark Zuckerbergs that we use as generational stand-ins (rather than, say, wealthy and successful millennials LeBron James and Kendrick Lamar).

These millennials – young, undereducated, poor and, all too often, minorities – exist in a state of permanent crisis, victims of a new economic disenfranchisement that took root in the Great Recession and, in the years since, has stubbornly remained. We’re only now beginning to grasp its full scope — and its potential implications for our nation’s future.

A recent Pew Research study, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College,” has made some of the more troubling realities that these kids face exceptionally clear: As an increasingly large share of young Americans earn degrees from institutions of higher learning, the remaining millennials are getting left further and further behind. Americans aged 25-32 without any time at college earn $17,500 less per year than their college-educated peers.

Alternatively, by looking at the recent employment figures of people aged 16-24, the Brookings Institution has cast a light upon the tenuous fates of the undereducated underemployed, a group still experiencing levels of unemployment and underemployment that haven’t existed in this country since the Second World War. The study focuses on ”labor force underutilization,” a measure that attempts to quantify underemployment by grouping the “officially” unemployed with those who desire employment (but have stopped actively looking) and those who are working part-time (but would prefer more hours).

Youth unemployment historically tracks at twice the national average, regardless of the economy’s health. While 7 percent unemployment is certainly a national crisis, it also augurs an even bigger issue — a staggeringly high underemployment rate for young Americans. Seven years past the recession, the youth underutilization rate remains stubbornly high: above 40 percent for 16-19-year-olds, and nearly 30 percent for millennials aged 20-24.

Put more plainly, none have it worse than undereducated millennials. Among this group, almost half are either unemployed, have given up on the labor market entirely, or been forced to work low-wage, part-time gigs:

If America could reduce unemployment from 7 percent (roughly where it stands now) to 5 percent (slightly below the historic average), we could immediately bring youth underemployment back to pre-recession levels, delivering hundreds of thousands of millennials from endemic poverty and spiraling, self-perpetuating joblessness.

There are plenty of other good reasons to address youth unemployment: for one, it costs the United States $25 billion a year, mostly in the form of lost tax revenue. In a report from the “post-recession youth advocacy group” Young Invincibles, the study’s authors suggest that we expand a number of already-extant programs to help jump-start employment, provide young Americans with valuable work experience, and incentivize businesses to take on more employees, all of which would spur economic growth. (As just one example, adding 600,000 new apprentices to the Department of Labor’s “Registered Apprenticeship Program” would yield a return-on-investment of 5,000, percent, or $74.4 billion in total “social benefits to the economy over the lifetime of each graduating class.”)

Meanwhile, the employment prospects for older Americans have actually improved during this period. Should we be surprised? Adecco Staffing Agency polled more than 500 H.R. managers and found that they were three times as likely to hire older workers as millennials. In a labor market where workers’ leverage is vanishing before our very eyes, this has profound results:

Of course, there are some who would suggest that this isn’t a big deal: Young people have always experienced the highest levels of unemployment, and they tend to have fewer financial obligations that would necessitate better-paying jobs. Youth, the convention goes, is the time to gain work experience by trying on a number of different jobs (whether you like it or not), and positioning yourself at the bottom of the career ladder (where, presumably, you can wait patiently for your older colleagues to grow old and retire — or die).

Unfortunately, the trap of long-term unemployment makes getting a new job near-impossible for those individuals unlucky enough to be caught in its maw. As they attempt to return to our cutthroat labor market, these victims of the Great Recession must compete with candidates who don’t carry the Scarlet Letter of a lengthy stint on unemployment across their résumés. And while the negative consequences of joining the labor market during a recession tend to recede with time, research into unemployment’s more long-term effects suggests that ”workers with the lowest predicted earnings are permanently down-ranked to firms paying lower wages.” This phenomenon is known as “economic scarring,” where “outcomes are passed across generations,” and “economic hardships for parents will mean more economic hurdles for their children.” Even when underprivileged youth manage to get an education, they’re still more likely to face long-term negative consequences from this recession: “Among graduates, those at the bottom of the wage distribution and those with the lowest predicted earnings suffer significantly larger and much more persistent earnings losses than those at the top.”

For half a century, mainstream economists have understood that high unemployment and low economic output are causally linked – and yet Congress has done practically nothing to address either problem.

Perhaps that’s because the primary victims of this moribund economy are the wrong type of people, the “lazy moochers” who surely must deserve every hideous misfortune that we, as a society, haven’t bothered to prevent or address.

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