According to the American Progress document (Ayres, 2013, p. 2.) American young adults “face the worst unemployment prospects in recent history”. The lack of future outlook, career prospects, the fact that unemployment drives wages down makes it hard for most under 25-s to enter the labor market. Likewise, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013, p. 1) states that young people with or without a high school diploma lost connection with opportunity. The below essay is designed to reveal the causes and trends that have led to this problem and research the solutions politicians and analysts offer to reduce youth unemployment and provide more opportunities for young people.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013, p. 1), “Forty years ago, a teenager leaving high school—with or without a diploma—could find a job in a local factory. Twenty years ago, even as manufacturing jobs moved offshore, young people could still gain a foothold in the workforce through neighborhood stores and restaurants. Amid the housing boom of the past decade, youth with some training could find a career track in the construction field. but today—with millions of jobs lost and experienced workers scrambling for every available position—America’s young people stand last in line for jobs.”
As the above quote confirms, young people with or without a qualification are disadvantaged on the job market. They are either offered unpaid internship, low wages or jobs not matching their ambition or qualification. The image of a college graduate working at the till in McDonald’s is all over the Internet, discussed on blogs and forums. Is it really the overall US unemployment rate that makes labor force participation between the age of 16 and 19 much lower than the average? According to American Progress document (Ayres, 2013, p. 2, Figure 1) teenagers’ (16 to 19) labor force participation has dropped to 33.5 percent in 2012. Likewise, among those between 20 and 24 labor force participation is only 70 percent.
The American Progress document (Ayres, 2013, p. 3.) states that American is not a youth-friendly job market, compared to some European countries. However, the argument also states that there are many who are not simply unable to find a job: they are not even looking for one. This is due to the benefit and welfare system, as well as the low wages offered.
Similarly, the same document (Ayres, 2013, p. 6.) states that “youth unemployment leads to depressed lifetime earnings”. This has an impact on long term savings, lifetime finances and pension benefits as well. Further, Ayres (2013, p. 7.) also confirms that the unemployed aged 16 to 24 cost taxpayers “s $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes”. Similarly, those not in education or job are likely to drive crime levels up.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013, p. 4.), young people miss the chance to build experience and learn essential job skills needed for further career progression. They are “forced” to waste their talent, and while they keep on “flipping hamburgers” because they are unable to find jobs that suit their qualification, they slowly forget what they learned in higher eduction. On the other hand, the long term effect of high unemployment rates would be lower lifetime wages, lack of job satisfaction and reduced tax income for the government. Similarly, while disadvantaged children were able to “break out” of poverty before through education and getting a good job before, they have no outlook for a better life. This indeed leads to disappointment, mental illnesses, increased level of drug use among the population, as well as rising crime levels.
Still, the most important problem is the rising number of young adults and teenagers out of school and out of work. These people are usually described as disconnected, opportunity youth or vulnerable.
Reconnecting the youth is a challenging task and needs an advanced approach. Education is one of the tools to be used by providing career and job search skills, community development programs, however, the protection of vulnerable people in particular is also important. The lack of support is the most important factor in young people’s failing in finding suitable employment. It is, obviously, harder to find a job as a high school dropout than a college graduate, therefore, the importance of education and qualification needs to be emphasized by government programs.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013, p. 9.) concludes that the solution lies in “creating multiple paths to success”. Strengthening support, education, as well as links to community at the same time would help reconnecting young adults and youth with the society, enable them to acquire essential skills needed in the job market. Quoting a case study, the authors confirm that a community program in Bronx was a success after creating the Bronx Opportunity Network consisting of eight local organizations. However, the report calls for the development of a national youth employment strategy as well as non-profit organization and agency input.
While career outlook among young adults is still bleak following a long term recession, the long term effect of youth unemployment is unimaginable. Lower long term earnings would result in a deficit in the budget for decades. People who are unable to find employment for a long time become demotivated, depressed and are more likely to develop mental disorders. This would also cost the health care department millions of dollars. The task to enable young people to obtain the necessary skills to succeed on the job market is the interest of every person living in America.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013) Youth and work: restoring teen and young adult connections to opportunity. Web. http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid=%7b3213DA55-8216-4065-B408-D7A521CDD990%7d
Ayres, S. (2013) The high cost of youth unemployment. Center for American Progress. Web. http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/AyresYouthUnemployment1.pdf