Youth Unemployment on Rise

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What else is new, right?

NPR covers the continued rise of unemployment for 16-19 year olds, especially among African-American teens.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the while the country gained 162,000 jobs in March, the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7 percent. And it’s much tougher for teenagers; The jobless rate for those between ages 16 and 19 rose to 26.1 percent. For African-American teens, it’s even worse: That rate stands at 41.1 percent.

“They are competing with people who have experience, and they simply don’t have it,” says Deborah Shore, founder of Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a group that provides housing and workforce training to homeless kids in Washington, D.C. “It’s the worst unemployment for teens ever.”

The longer they go without work experience, the harder it will be for them to find jobs in the future, she says.

Unfortunately, the teen job market is one of the last indicators of a healthy economy, with many white youth finding jobs before the African-American demographic. Because of racial discrimination, a lack of resources, and fewer connections, African-American youth are one of the most disadvantaged groups of job seekers.

One way to assist these young people is by passing legislation with comprehensive youth programs and public works projects included.

There is at least one proposal before the House that would devote $8 billion to year-round youth training and employment. Other proposals in the Senate have been blocked, although congressional staffers supportive of such measures believe Congress may still pass funding for youth programs through an amendment to other, broader jobs bills.

However, as the article points out, summer vacation is quickly approaching. Will our representatives act in enough time?

It’s important to remember that while changing the way college students finance their education is important, there are less privileged youth out there who want to get to work but are devoid of opportunities. What are we doing to help them?

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Wall Street Journal Lies about Teen Unemployment

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I want to start today by pointing to a post by Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. Chait attempts to refute the suggestion the Wall Street Journal put forth in an editorial claiming that the minimum wage increase was to blame for rising youth unemployment numbers. The chart to the left appeared in the Journal to augment the editorial board’s argument.

Chait draws on analysis from University of Michigan political scientist Brendan Nyhan explaining that the unemployment increase in ALL age demographics undoes the Journal’s argument. The Journal can’t seem to distinguish between correlation and causation, Nyhan writes.

While it’s certainly plausible that the increases in the minimum wage over the last three years have worsened teen unemployment, correlation doesn’t prove causation. Any variable that trended in one direction during the current economic downturn will be correlated with the unemployment rate among teens or any other group.

More importantly, unemployment is rising across the board, which cuts against the WSJ’s hypothesis that the minimum wage is having a particularly devastating effect on teens.

Though the Wall Street Journal might like to think they can downplay youth unemployment by practicing amateur science, they’ve made their ignorance quite apparent. It’s another example of a contribution to our political dialogue that misleads citizens in an attempt to assist the right-wing conspiracy.

Youth Unemployment Rate Continues to Rise

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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?

Mark Penn’s Opinion Is Irrelevant

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Mark Penn, the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, thought he might be able to get back into public political prognostication a year after his biggest professional failure. In a Politico piece, Penn predicts the reaction of Americans when unemployment hits ten percent, what he calls a “political tripwire.”

Unless some tough decisions are made soon, rising jobless figures will most likely hit what could be a public opinion and political tripwire: 10 percent unemployment.

If and when the country crosses that line, it will be the No. 1 news story for days, recent stock market gains could recede, and consumer confidence will fall. And whether or not the economic crisis is coming to an end, such a high unemployment level has the potential to undermine the hard-won confidence enjoyed by the Obama administration. The Republicans will quickly claim all we have is more debt and fewer jobs.

Let’s get something straight: unemployment will creep past ten percent. Even the Obama administration acknowledges this.

But let’s also examine Penn’s accuracy with previous predictions and success as a political consultant on the big stage. It’s not pretty.

1.) Penn’s strategy memo for Clinton, written on March 30, 2007, predicts the unelectability of Barack Obama due to his lack of American roots:

But he also called Obama “unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun,” and wrote, “I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.” Penn proposed targeting Obama’s “lack of American roots.”

2.) Josh Marshall points out in a 2008 post that Penn, quite frankly, sucks at advising Democratic presidential campaigns.

But some knowledgeable campaign watchers have now confirmed me in my impression that virtually every Democratic primary campaign Penn has run going back to 2000 or earlier has lost — Checchi, Blanchard, Cuomo, Lieberman, Deutsch. The guy has an absolutely terrible record.

Oh yeah – he lost in 2008 too.

As we examine the success or failure of the stimulus going forward, there are many people more qualified than Mark Penn to accurately and truthfully discuss its impact.