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Young Americans Face a Stark Employment Picture

The Great Recession has taken its toll on working Americans in all age groups, but has hit the young especially hard. Instead of heading out into a world full of job opportunities and promise, young people are finding themselves in a category that sports the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Job opportunities decrease for the youngest workers
You might expect the chances of landing work to decrease with age, but for the youngest of workers, the exact opposite is true, as the latest data clearly shows:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Prospects are dimmer than ever
The 22.7% unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 19 years is a little more palatable when you consider that most people in this age group are likely still in high school, though working or wanting to work. Overall, the jobless rate for 16 to 24 year olds is 16.3% in July 2013, which is 2.3% higher than the rate reported by BLS in the summer of 2008. Obviously, things have gotten quite a bit worse since the onset of the recession.

Taking a look at the next age bracket, 20 to 24 years, is still pretty dismal, with an unemployment rate of 13% -- and occurring during the exact timespan when most college graduates or graduates-to-be are looking to put their college diplomas to good use.

Speaking of college diplomas, the employment status of persons with and without that piece of paper is pretty astounding. As of this August, those armed with only a high school degree belong to a group with 7.6% jobless rate, a smidge above the official, national rate for all persons of 7.3%. That's a whole lot better than job seekers who lack proof of high school graduation, though -- a group that currently registers a jobless rate of 11.3%.

Some college or a two-year degree will net you an unemployment rate of 6.1%, but four years or more of higher education -- with diploma -- puts you in league with employees with a minimal rate of 3.5%.

Financial independence: difficult for Millennials
Despite the better chances that a college degree affords job hunters, twenty-something workers, part of the "Millennial" generation, are still finding it difficult to assert themselves financially. The Pew Research Center noted last month that census data shows 36% of those aged 18 to 31 years still live with their parents. Not surprisingly, one of the key reasons for this phenomenon is higher rates of unemployment.

Worse still, twenty-somethings see themselves as losing ground when it comes to becoming financially independent. A survey by PNC Financial (NYSE: PNC  ) shows that of the 20- to 29-year-olds responding to the poll, 12% more see themselves as behind their personal goals regarding success than did two years ago. Compared to the 24% that responded in the affirmative in 2011, only 17% now consider themselves ahead of these expectations.

A chilling view of the future
A whole generation is being held back by the lack of employment opportunities, and the economy will continue to suffer as a result. It doesn't seem likely that people who cannot pay rent will be spending much money to get the economy going, never mind setting up retirement accounts or investing in the stock market.

The pain being felt now will reverberate for years, as well. The Center for American Progress estimates that a six-month jobless stint translates into lost income of $45,000 when the actual wages lost, as well as the catch-up time needed once employment is procured, are figured in.

It's a disturbing thought, but it is certain that everyone will suffer when the youngest group of workers can't find employment. From Social Security recipients to taxpayers, to corporations and their investors -- no one will be left untouched.

Though employers still claim to be unsure of an economic recovery, using some of the big profits they made during the Great Recession and its aftermath to begin hiring again will give the economy the jolt it needs -- as well as supply a new generation of workers with the confidence and wherewithal to pursue their dream of financial independence.

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Read/Post Comments (21) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 10:15 AM, serioso777 wrote:

    Gee golly whizzz , Ya Think ?

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 10:50 AM, livinginvegas wrote:

    You voted for it you got it.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:27 AM, First11111111 wrote:

    with repubs and dems wanting to increase the # of echonebeezzz from indeeeah to 190k per year FOREVER, and the 12mill illegals about to get citizenship, and babies of illegals eligible for free education, yeah I'd say it's going to be hard for anyone to get a job. this is not obama's fault, this is bush1's, clinton1's, bush2's, AND obama1's fault!!!

    and it's the American public's fault for letting this happen!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:31 AM, First11111111 wrote:

    by the way, obama has appointed more asian indeeahns to government positions than all other presidents combined. read about the united nations agenda 21, and nafta's chapter 11 and you'll see how corp america and our government are using these tools to break America and turn us into a 3rd world country.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:46 AM, djconklin wrote:

    The jobs are gone because we shipped them overseas. Why should we be conducting free trade with countries that don't reciprocate?

    @sady, the jobs were gone BEFORE the President took office and this admin has done more to stop illegals from coming in than any previous one. If you don't like illegals in this country then stop hiring them.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:49 AM, captaintodzilla wrote:
  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:50 AM, captaintodzilla wrote:

    The government is acting like a sixteen year old kid that thinks it knows everything."If there isn't justice for the people let there be no peace for the government." Doing the same thing over and over is insane. Fix America First. Prioritize. Recycle America ,turn things around. The Government should fear the people, opposite of how it is now. the government should protect people and regulate corporations not protect corporations and regulate people. We need to Build a good foundation then rebuild. Reinstate common sense. Create Accountability and most of all treat our cancers greed , ignorance and self-entitlement. Our society runs the way it does because it is designed that way for the rich by the rich. There are many common sense simple ways to change things to make a better world to live in. Until we can prioritize correctly , have accountability , and worry about the American instead of the American dollar things will remain perverted. Anyone can find fault -- it's not a sign of anything other than moderate brain activity. It's much harder to offer creative criticism that actually improves the situation for everyone involved, UNITED we stand divided we fall...there is only one race the HUMAN RACE all the divisions of political parties and skin color have demoralized this country into a sewage plant of lying stealing ignorant greedy self-entitled hypocritical idiots the government has had too much money power and time with too little results actions speak louder than words.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 12:32 PM, fuskiegirl21 wrote:

    Hope and Change. We got it. Wonder if all those young kids that voted for Obama hoped to live in their parents basement until they are 30yrs old?

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 12:45 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    Why are we seeing articles like this when the common man has been saying this for years now?

    Why aren't we reading articles that are telling us that the "employment improvements" are nothing but part time employees who are replacing the hours lost to full time employees converted to part time employees so that companies can drop benefits?

    And why are they doing that? Because the government has made the cost of benefits skyrocket and more.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 12:53 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    captaintodzilla - if you would just understand that public corporations are required to publish their balance sheets you might be smart enough to actually look them up and see that corporations are not making money any more than the public. The government takes from everyone.

    Your ignorant ideas of the world being run by the rich is stupid. The rich are the people that are actually working at running the world. What have you done? Chances are you haven't even bothered to vote. Chances are you have never attended one single city council meeting in your life. Chances are that you have never gone to a Party meeting and put your ideas in there.

    Instead you tell the mindless internet that it is someone else's fault with the same stupidity of Obama blaming Bush for everything he has been unable to do in 5 years of nearly absolute power.

    Though you are entirely correct that the government should fear the retribution of the people. And they're presently learning as there are more and more recall petitions and there is a mid-term election coming up.

    So please grow up. The enemy isn't corporations - it is politicians ignoring the people on the important issues but getting in the spotlight on unimportant issues. "I could have been Trayvon"!

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 1:15 PM, OldGuyAlso wrote:

    Naturally will have trouble finding work, their parents are having to stay in their jobs much longer to put money away in hopes of surviving their own retirement. Having the companies ship the higher paying jobs overseas. Cost of education ballooning to massive debt. Older workers staying in the better jobs until being forced out. where is a kid to go?

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 1:35 PM, Wasatcher wrote:

    I realize this is an article about young people struggling to find jobs, but their plight doesn't even begin to compare with that of older people . . . the "Unemployment By Age Group" graph included in this article doesn't even mention those over the ripe old age of 44!

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 3:00 PM, ruindigger wrote:

    and yet the same bunch will be re-elected next year. fascinating...

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 3:05 PM, Donmax425 wrote:

    Kids I have bad news for you the libs and the other socialist have sold you out for freebes. I doesn't matter weather you have college education or not. You will be lucky to get a job.Wake up and start voting for your freedom and your right to progress in this society. The libs don't care. Vote them out.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 3:54 PM, tom33952 wrote:

    Immigrants come to America for one reason: To take jobs from Americans by working for less money and accepting worse working conditions. Both parties are guilty of supporting immigration to woo their constituents. Americans will continue to see their birthright - the right to make a decent living in the nation where they were born - sold to the cheapest immigrant, illegal or legal, until voters make stopping immigration a requirement to get elected.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 5:05 PM, ConHater wrote:

    Republicans, taking America down and slowly but surely creating so much more division and poverty while their supporters continue to be blinded even at their own peril. Priceless....

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 6:55 PM, shineridge wrote:

    Young people can thank BOTH major parties for their bleak economic situation. The RepubliCRATS !!!! Both parties have signed our nation onto Nafta, SO-CALLED "Free Trade" and Globalism. This has resulted in OUTSOURCING, which has seen millions and MILLIONS of good paying manufacturing and even high tech jobs being sent to COMMIE China, India, etc. This has pretty much wiped out our Middle Class. Another factor is automation (robotics, replacing humans), in many jobs that paid well. Automation is the one factor that we really can't stop because it's technological "progress". The bottom line is that millions and MILLIONS of young people will probably NEVER find good paying jobs. Jobs that pay a living wage. It looks like the Baby Boomers may be the last generation of Americans to enjoy a good standard of living. From here on out, the US will likely sink farther and farther toward 3rd World Status. The Great Middle Class will probably be nothing more than a footnote in history books. Truly SAD.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 8:16 PM, julio2 wrote:

    And Obama is forcing them to buy health insurance they don't need.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 8:35 PM, Rotomoley wrote:

    We are the new Mexico. I see no reversal of this trend.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 11:33 PM, bugmenot wrote:

    Obama has destroyed his voting base. In Chicago his Black supporters are killing each other while they suffer under 9% unemployment in Democrat destroyed Illinois. It is scary that the US news media is now less truthful than China's. Obama gets support for high unemployment and murder. I guess it it time to start burning NYT journalists at the stake!

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2013, at 2:22 AM, sdchanman wrote:

    Young Americans need to figure out who told them to study obsolete subjects. Young Americans need to start their own business.

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