Millennial Unemployment Spikes to 11.5% — America Has a New Crisis On Its Hands

Youth unemployment has sky-rocketed over the course of a month, jumping 0.5% to 11.5%. The same spike has also occurred amongst most millennial-specific demographics, including young African Americans and Hispanics.

In comparison, the unemployment rate for December stayed at 7.8%, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7%. U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during the tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff. 

Though the millennial unemployment rate is high, there’s also too little data to see if this is a growing problem among young people, or even part of a national jobs problem.

Millennial unemployment — typically higher and more chaotic than the broader national unemployment rate — can be seen in some ways as a bell weather for job growth/ decline in America: Young people are the first to be hired and fired (or not hired at all).

But there are other considerations: With the end of the fall semester, many new winter graduates have entered into the work force. The fiscal cliff could have also played a role, as companies — in wait and see mode — may have been holding off on hiring before a deal was reached (which also accounts for the wider unemployment rates’ stable neither-up-nor-down mark).  

If youth unemployment continues to rise, though, it would be a sign of worse things to come.

Still, the job outlook can’t be considered peachy for millennials right now. There are clear signs that young people are struggling to find work, an on-going problem that has reverberations for the wider economy.

Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan organization advocating for millennials (ages 18-29) highlighted the numbers:

The overall unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds for December 2012 is 11.5% (NSA). The unemployment rate in November was 10.9%.

The unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African Americans for December 2012 is 22.1% (NSA). The November 2012 unemployment rate was 18.5%.

The unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for December 2012 is 12.2% (NSA). It was 12.5% in November.

The unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for December 2012 is 10.4% (NSA), a slight drop from November.

There are some more hidden issues: The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs. When 1.7 million 18-29 year-olds have already given up looking for jobs so early in their adult life, that is cause for major concern.

If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 unemployment calculations, the actual millennial unemployment rate would rise to 16.3%.


Millennials are, of course, the “leaders of tomorrow,” but we also must remember that “tomorrow” is right around the corner. Millennials in their late 20s are already entering and working their way up business and politics, and will, in less than a decade, be the leaders of today. If millions of young people are struggling to find work, then this destabilizes future job and social areas — growth in 2020 could already be considered to be slowing if millennials aren’t incorporating themselves into the economy now. With some young bright minds out of the workforce, it could only have long-term negative effects for the country as a whole.

If this situation continues, American policymakers will have to (FINALLY) take notice of the plight which millennials face.

America’s future is at stake.

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