In the latest jobs report released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 236,000 jobs in February. That’s fuel for the Obama administration that has had to fend off Republicans who have been claiming that austerity measures are necessary to avert a government shutdown following the fiscal cliff debates over the last few months. No doubt the White House will be clamoring to claim victory in reducing unemployment by 0.2% through federal spending programs over the course of the first term.
But, in the midst of this positive jobs report, how does this hold up for millennials? According the Millennial Jobs Report issued by Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for adults between the ages of 18 and 29 was 12.5%. If taking into consideration, those for which the Department of Labor does not count because they have “given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs,” the figure stands more like 16.2% based on their calculation.
This past November, Obama carried 93% of black voters and 71% of Latinos as reported by NBC. However, the unemployment rate for these electorates is telling among millennials. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 22.8% and for Hispanics it is 13.4% based on the report. It’s shocking that his biggest supporters are those whom are let down the most by his policies.
A second point to consider is student loan debt. According to the Project on Student Debt, average student debt has climbed to $26,600 for the class of 2011 that’s in contrast to $23,200 for the class of 2008. The student loan overhaul of 2010 discourages prudent financial decisions, essentially lengthening the time it takes to repay back debt through the Income-Based Repayment plan and accumulating interest.
While they may not be struggling as much per month on student loans, millennials are not spending their money on things that will grow their financial success or economic well-being because they are focused on survival mode. The percentage of young adults owning their primary home fell sharply from 40% in 2007 to 34% in 2011; the same goes for cars — 73% of adults younger than 25 owned or leased one vehicle in 2007 compared to 66% in 2011. From 2007 to 2010, there was a 14% decline in financial assets held by millennials even while the stock market has recovered most of its losses.
Finally, Obama’s policies have not providing opportunities for young workers to enter the workforce. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided for a workforce investment system in the summers of 2009 and 2010 claiming to provide over 367,000 summer job opportunities to young people based on a White House report. These temporary jobs may have only marginally impacted youth since the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 10% increase in youth unemployment for those between the ages of 16 and 19.
Millennials are distracted by the ruse of proposed benefit programs without looking at the reality. Obama's record of enlarging entitlements furthers government dependency. Unfortunately, young people are too distracted to notice their loss in financial opportunity by his strategy of rebuilding coalition support in other issues (particularly social and environmental causes) following the 2010 landslide statewide electoral victories and a breakdown in fiscal cliff negotiations over the summer.
The picture painted by the Democrats is that Keynesian economics works (an increase in government spending during a recession to offset a decrease in private spending), and free market economics doesn’t. In the past four years, despite a bump in government spending, millennials are not better off than they were before.