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Move over baby boomers, millennials are way on their way to becoming America’s next great generation! Compromised of individuals between the ages of 18 to 29, millennials are a force to be reckoned with. They are better educated and technologically savvier than previous generations. Politically, they are more active and progressive. From a marketing perspective, they are highly profitable, encompassing the largest consuming power up to date. To top it off, they are vastly diverse, with about forty percent identifying as African American, Latino, Asian or racially-mixed. Yet regardless of these feats, millennials just can’t seem to find a job.
National unemployment has gone down to 7.3 percent in the U.S, yet the unemployment rate for millennials has actually increased. In January 2013, the rate went up by 2 percent. Three quarters of a year later, the numbers do not seem to be improving. A report released by the non-partisan organization Generation Opportunity on August 2013, specified that the unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 11.8 percent. What’s more is that these numbers do not even fully encompass the entirety of unemployed 18 to 29 year olds. An additional 1.7 million unemployed millennials are not even taken into account by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not active in the workforce, i.e they have given up on looking for work all together.
This issue is hardly particular to the United States. As per the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 73.4 million millenials are unemployed worldwide. Greece leads the pack with 65 percent of their young adults out of work, followed closely by Spain with about 55 percent. Italy does not fare well either, with a 35 percent unemployment rate among the youth, trailed by France and the UK with 22 percent respectively. In China, it has been estimated that one third of the adult Chinese populations is a NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training).
So why is such a large populace currently out of work? The recent recession is obviously a factor, as evident by the current job market. The applicant pool has become significantly larger and employers are filling entry-level positions that ordinarily would have gone to recent college graduates, with older candidates as they have more experience. In a recent statement, the President of Generation Opportunity, Evan Feinberg, noted: “Practically all of the jobs created this summer were part-time, and precious few even went to young people”.
Some experts blame the youth themselves, deeming the cause to be strictly psychological. A Clark University poll conducted on over 1000 “emerging adults” aged 18-29, revealed that 51 percent of those surveyed do not consider themselves to be full adults yet. This apparent lack of identity creates a paradox: If you do not identify as an adult, how can you possible partake in adult activities, such as holding a job?
Others see it as a problem stemming back to Mom and Dad. The Boomer generation, specifically, was characterized by over-expending and under-saving. Such resulted in an accumulation of debt which has since been passed down to their children. Children, now millennials, who with the rising cost of education and the steady decline of available jobs, are consumed by their own debt as it is.
Whatever the cause is, the millennial generation just cannot seem to catch a break. Society itself has turned a blind eye to the crisis; unemployment among millennials has been consistently overlooked by policy debates in Washington. Yet investing in the wellbeing of this generation is not only wise, it is also necessary. Millenials have been called lazy, narcissistic, entitled, screwed. But instead of thinking of this generation as hopeless, why not think of them as hope? Like it or not, millennials represent the future. And as the saying goes, the future depends on what you do today.