Millennial Unemployment Jumps By a Staggering 2% — A Sign That the U.S. Economy As a Whole is Sputtering

The millennial unemployment rate has jumped significantly over the last month, up around 2 percentage points to 13.1%, according to a new report.

That number is mind-boggling, pointing to deep economic problems not only among the American youth population, but also with the wider American economy as a whole.

The millennial unemployment rate has gone up every month since the November national elections, and points to a possible core problem with the U.S. economy. If young people aren’t working, the economy is more or less stagnant. Millennials — following the “last-in, first-out” principle in the job market — are the most susceptible to even slight ripples in the economy. Unproven and with a soft career background to lean on, employers — when they stop hiring — will often cut off young people first.

The millennial jobs reports adds to other canary-in-the-mine-shaft warnings that have recently been sounded, including the .01% contraction of the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2012. Then there’s the first jobs numbers of the year which showed that unemployment ticked up slightly in January.

On Friday, the monthly jobs numbers were announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showing that U.S. employers had added 157,000 jobs in January, showing hiring was up. Still, the national unemployment rate rose to 7.9% from 7.8% in December.

Youth unemployment shows signs that worse things may be around the corner.

Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan organization advocating for millennials ages 18-29, shows the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for January, 2013 was 13.1% (NSA). For December 2012 it was 11.5%, while the unemployment rate in November was 10.9%.

The BLS reviews employment numbers for a range of age groups, including “youth (18-24) but not the millennial generation specifically (those people under the age of 30). This group is the most recent generational addition to the work force.

The youth unemployment rate in January for 18-29 year old African-Americans was 22.1%; for 18-29 year old Hispanics was 13%; and for 18–29 year old women was 11.6%.

All of these groups saw unemployment rise or stay the same compared to last month.

The declining labor 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. Some figures put that number higher than 5.5 million people.

If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to a massively staggering 16.2%.

Millennial unemployment — typically higher and more chaotic than the broader national unemployment rate — can be seen in some ways as bell weather for job growth/ decline in America.

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).

Still, the three-months long trend of rising unemployment itself is a problem that can’t be waved off by these factors. That trend shows that young people are having harder and harder and even harder times finding employment, no matter what the seasonal factors.

Millennials, the “leaders of tomorrow,” are struggling to get to those positions … and remember that “tomorrow” is right around the corner. Millennials in their late 20s are already entering and working their way up through 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 bubbles — growth in 2020 could already be considered to be slowing if millennials aren’t incorporating themselves into the economy now. The problem builds on itself.

With young bright minds out of the workforce, it could only have long-term negative effects for the country as a whole.

American policymakers must (FINALLY) take notice of the plight which millennials face. The millennial generation has been left out of all policy debates in Washington.

This isn’t just a wake-up call, it’s a fire engine roaring through the bedroom.

America’s future is at stake.

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