Young Workers Dropping Out of the Labor Force Faster than Any Other Group

 The unemployment rate has been dropping for a little while now, but the so-called recovery still isn't adding jobs nearly quickly enough to keep up with population growth--and that's hitting young workers the hardest.

Catherine Ruetschlin at Demos reported that the 120,000 jobs added last month presented the slowest month of growth since October 2011, and that the small decline in the unemployment rate wasn't from job gains, but rather from workers giving up the job hunt. She wrote:

Looking at this trend by age group shows that a greater proportion of younger workers, ages 20 to 24, stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor market than any other group. In fact, enough 20 to 24-year-old workers left the labor force to cause the unemployment rate for workers in this age group to drop from 13.8 percent in February to 13.2 percent in March, even though fewer young people had jobs last month than in the month before. The trajectory was especially poor for young women, who shouldered the entirety of employment losses among 20 to 24-year-olds and suffered a bigger decline in labor force participation rates than men.

Those young workers, many of them fresh out of college with student debt to pay off, will see lasting effects on their wages and future employment opportunities from their inability to enter the job market. They also may be the ones most able to quit hunting for jobs and, for instance, move back in with their families--but that in turn also impacts the economy, as young people holding off on forming households aren't buying homes or cars.

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute noted last year that since 2000, young college graduates have seen their wages decline, adjusted for inflation. She pointed out then that it would likely be years before young grads see any wage growth--and these numbers, sadly, seem only to confirm that between the squeeze of rising debt, falling wages, and little job growth, it's a very rough time to be young and on the job hunt.

Yet politicians still claim wonder why young people made up the majority of the Occupy movement...

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at April 9, 2012, 9:53am

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