Generation Y Unemployment: Where is the coverage? Where is the concern?
September 2, 2010 3 Comments
Eric Waters, Columnist
The official unemployment rate in America hovers around 9.5 percent, but what about the dismal figure for today’s youth? The sporadic news article or ten second news clip may mention the fact that teenagers to recent college graduates are facing near epidemic unemployment, but who in the political arena or media is looking out for them? Unfortunately, the answer is no one. And why? It’s simple. They do not care! You, the youth, are NOT their target audience. This lack of coverage and discussion about one of the nation’s most serious problems represents the harsh reality of today’s political and media climate for those aged 24 and under; because they do not vote or watch the news in large numbers the world appears to ignore them. An American economy in the tank only exacerbates this problem.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “youth” is defined as those between the ages of 16-24. Naturally this definition encompasses most of Generation Y, so I believe their reports will give great insight into how well we are managing to find work in the Great Recession. A look at the dissected numbers reveals the miserable reality.
The unemployment rate for teenagers is 26.1 percent. When I graduated from high school my parents told me to get ready for the “real” world. In the real world you have to be self-reliant, which means buying your own things, which means making your own money, which means getting a job, which is almost inevitably difficult. Well I guess in this time of few jobs, the “real” world just got more real. God help those who decide to leave high school early. This stifling unemployment rate means millions of teenagers are not getting that summer job to help ends meet. Among other things, they will neither be saving to pay for school or a car. How many of them will be put at a further disadvantage, by not going to a better college or not having access to a car, due to lack of money? These types of adverse circumstances can, unfortunately, negatively alter a person’s future success tremendously.
And let us not forget about those aged 20 to 24 years old, who have an unemployment rate currently at 15.7 percent. This is well above the national average of nine-and-a-half percent, which, listening to every media report, is not pretty. I can assure you that if the unemployment rate for 45 to 50-year olds, or 50 to 55-year olds, were 15.7 percent both the media and the government would discuss the issue endlesslyand look for ways to solve it. Those in this 20 to 24 age bracket, who are working through college or starting new careers, are especially vulnerable due to a lack of work experience and/or because of little to no job-skill development. Simply put, no matter how talented they may be, they cannot “prove” it with their résumés, which remain thin due to lack of employment opportunities at a younger age.
As stated earlier, the youth are not the target audience of either mass media or the government. The media is concerned with its demographics and ratings. How many 16-year-olds do you hear of tuning in for the Ed Show on MSNBC or O’Reilly Factor on FOX? Not many. The politicians, who are elected to represent their constituency, know for whom to legislate–namely the citizens in their districts who actually vote. Youth are the least likely electorate to vote or contribute monetarily to candidates. The last time I checked, most of the big campaign donors are either corporations or millionaires not typically concerned with Generation Y.
The repercussions from the present, absurdly high unemployment will be felt well into the future. It is not simply a problem of I cannot get a job today or tomorrow, but rather, How does this affect job prospects and offers for the rest of my life? What jobs will not be offered to me because I was not able to work for a certain period of time when I was younger? Unfortunately, these are among the questions many of us will be asking ourselves in the years to come.
We need to use information like this as a call to action. We can no longer tolerate such appalling numbers. Frankly, it is insulting that we have been ignored and disregarded for so long. Let your local politicians and media know you are worried about youth unemployment rates. Let your voice be heard.
Those in power may not be fully concerned with the youth’s well being, but I will be. Soon, I will be profiling an “Early Riser,” and I can assure you that this is a topic on which we will be touching.