Here we are again. Another “Numbers Day” has come. These days, the new job numbers only serve as a reminder to how lousy it is for young people looking for work. And I can’t help but feel repetitive talking about it and the policies needed to improve our situation.
Unemployment is still over 16% for 18-29 year olds, according to Generation Opportunity’s latest Millennial Jobs Report. and it’s been consistently this high for years now. Thankfully, 175,000 jobs were created, slightly above expectations. That’s good, right?
Well, no. Unfortunately, many in the media and talking heads on TV herald any report that outperforms initial estimates. They make any positive gain seem like things are rebounding nicely. But that’s just not the case. Many economists, like Peter Morici from the University of Maryland, believe we need to add more than 365,000 jobs each month for three years just to lower overall unemployment to 6%! We have not seen even close to that kind of job growth in years.
What’s perhaps worse is the possible trend that may emerge from these numbers. In other words, over 26,000 jobs this month were only temporary. In January, part of the president’s healthcare law that imposes a penalty on employers with 50 or more workers who do not provide health coverage kicks in. In an effort to avoid this mandate, more and more companies have reported using temporary staffing agencies, thus hurting those looking for permanent, long-term work.
Similarly, many employers are using these temp agencies to reduce employee hours. Under the health care law, coverage is only required for those working 30 or more hours each week. This is leaving many workers in a less than ideal situation by limiting their pay and advancement in their jobs. If this continues, the availability of quality jobs will become even scarcer.
It should also be mentioned that this report incorporated five weeks of job growth compared to the normal four weeks we are accustomed to in between new jobs numbers each month. So theoretically, the number of new jobs created for this report should have been pretty large in number. Instead, last month’s numbers were revised down 16,000 jobs!
As each month shows us, we are not recovering jobs and getting young people to work at an acceptable pace. Millions of young people are graduating with mounds of debt – sending out résumé after résumé with no calls back. Young people are working too many part-time jobs just to make ends meet, many are taking unpaid internships just for the experience, and still more are volunteering to keep some skills fresh in hopes of an employer willing to hire them.
We need less government-driven approaches to job creation and more policies that free people to create their own businesses and let them prosper. My generation is a highly skilled, educated, and creative generation. We have tremendous ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit. Yet we keep hearing job creators say they can’t expand and hire more people, or start a business at all. In fact, the opposite is happening.
We can all agree that we need more jobs, particularly for young people. We just need to create an environment where those jobs can flourish.