Beware of reports that unemployment is getting better. Because for our nation’s future, it isn’t.

The LA Times reports:

For 20- to 24-year-olds, the jobless rate rose four-tenths of a percent to 16% in November, even as unemployment nationally slipped to 10% from 10.2%.

And data from the Labor Department show that the unemployment figure for college graduates in that age group was 10.6% in the third quarter — the highest since early 1983 and more than double the rate for older college-educated workers.

What’s scary is how long this could linger with our generation, even after this recession passes and unemployment begins recovery.

Eventually, things will probably get better for Daley and for classmates he said were having similar problems. After all, job and pay prospects for college graduates are generally stronger than for workers with less education. But studies also suggest that graduates entering the workforce in a recession see negative effects not only in the short term but for years into the future in terms of pay and career mobility.

Entry-level salaries are usually lower in tough times, and for most workers, where they start is one of the biggest factors in how much they’re earning a decade later. The slower start can also influence family formation and consumer spending on such things as cars and houses.

Those effects are likely to be even more pronounced this time given the severity of the latest recession.

“At this point, it’s almost like I can’t even start on building a career or a life if I can’t get my foot in the door,” Daley said.

Some of the numbers are starting to come in for institutional job placement, and they’re not pretty (surprise, surprise):

Last year, an average of 67% of students had full-time jobs within six months of graduation, according to reports from 557 four-year colleges. That was a decline from a placement rate of 75% for the class of 2007 and 77% the year before.

Edwin Koc, the association’s research director, said he’d had discussions with several dozen colleges in recent weeks, and some of them are seeing employment rates as low as 30% for those who graduated six or seven months ago.

The lasting effects of this recession on young people MUST lead to quick, targeted relief for youth. It’s not just college youth. It’s not just youth who feel pinched because they might be forced to save something instead of blowing through their paycheck. Everyone needs relief here, and while the numbers might be rebounding in particular places and among particular segments of society, youth risk being forgotten. Story of our lives, right?

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