Cowritten with Brian Burrell and Frank La Nasa.
Last month, the economy added 165,000 jobs and the national unemployment rate decreased to 7.5%. Unemployment for 18 to 29 year-olds declined from 11.7% in March to 11.1% in April. For 16-24 year olds it was a similar story, with a slight decline from 16.2% in March to 16.1% in April. The youth unemployment rates went down, but remain unacceptably high.
Unfortunately, with the brunt of the effects of the sequester — the legislation that cuts job training programs, Federal Work Study, and other programs that support our generation's ability to get an education and train for jobs — yet to come, these high unemployment rates will likely persist. Indeed, there is no end in sight to the 53 straight months of unemployment over 10% for 18-29 year olds, according to Generation Opportunity. And unemployment doesn’t just affect earnings right now; the current economic crisis can have an impact on our generation far down the road as well.
What would you do with an extra $22,000 over a decade? For the young adults who are unemployed for six months or more, they may never find out. According to a report by Center for American Progress, when a person is unemployed for more than six months, he or she loses $22,000 in potential earnings. Multiply that by the 677,000 20-24 year olds who have been unemployed for over six months and we’re looking at nearly $15 billion in lost wages.
That’s $15 billion less that will go into paying for rent, food, student debt, transportation, and health care — forget saving for the future. Not only does our generation struggle to survive day-to-day without these wages, but this gap will impact the country as a whole, as an entire generation sees stagnating and decreasing wages along with higher unemployment.
Get the Facts:
To make sure this bleak picture doesn't become a reality, Young Invincibles launched our Get the Facts campaign to educate people about the costs and impact of high young adult unemployment. We're going across the country to talk to young people in job training programs to find out what's working for them, and how we can expand the programs that increase earnings, job placement, and degree attainment. With proven solutions like Registered Apprenticeships that return $50 for every federal dollar invested and increase earnings by $120,000 on average, it doesn't make sense to cut these important programs. Check out our website for our 50 state-specific job reports and to see where we've visited and how you can make a difference.