Youth Unemployment is Not What It Seems

Someone beat me to my next article. That’s what happens when you take time out to watch some football.

Changes in the basic shape of a successful career may have a lot to do with both youth unemployment rates, and our declining work force participation. This also has serious implications for wage inequality. More on that to come, but this piece from The Atlantic sums it up well.

The larger point is that many college-educated young people are choosing not to take low-paying service-level jobs if they don’t absolutely have to. Because they can live with their parents (and as many as 45 percent of recent grads do) and because they rarely have much in the way of fixed costs such as homes and children, they can hold out for a job that matches their ambitions. They can also retool their skills as they discover that their college degree in marketing and communications may not leave them in the best position to get the type of job that they want.

This type of unemployment is one of choice—rational, legitimate choice—not of systemic failure. It is a challenge to find a meaningful job, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying. A youth cohort determined to create meaningful work should not be seen as lazy, lost or in dire straits. Instead it could be exactly the type who might actually lead the transition of our economy away from the making-stuff economy of the 20th century to an ideas economy of the 21st.

The employment picture for young people without a college degree is different. They’re being left further behind. According to the BLS, more than 30 percent of recent high school graduates who aren’t in college are unemployed, and the number is worse for those who dropped out of high school. African-Americans without a college degree, especially under the age of 20, have an unemployment rate that approaches 40 percent. African-Americans also have higher incarceration rates, especially males, and most states and companies enact punitive regulations that make employment for those with a prison record extremely challenging.

The full article is here.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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