To be young, unemployed, or working for free in the USA
from David Ruccio
As the semester draws to a close, I’ve been hearing from my students about their job prospects. And it’s pretty ugly.
Some have landed decent-paying jobs, either for the summer or upon graduation. But many others have not been able to find a real job or they’re going to be underemployed or they’ve accepted unpaid internships. And they’re pretty sad.
It may not help much but they should also know they’re not alone why they join the ranks of the unemployed/underemployed/unpaid youth in this country.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official unemployment rate among young people (ages 16 to 19 years) is 24.9 percent, up from 23 percent a year ago. And, according to the Associated Press, the weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.
About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.
Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.
Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
That’s why many college-age students are taking unpaid internships, not only for the summer but even as they finish their degrees.
Here we have an entire generation that is young, sad, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they’ve turned to getting high.