Unemployed youth

Date posted: June 3, 2013

It’s important for young people to have jobs for several reasons. It provides them income. It’s a reward for schooling, and it teaches them valuable life skills. How is the country doing in creating jobs for our youth? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Well, as you might expect, not very well. If you look at the percentage of young people — and we’ll define young people as between the ages of 25 and 34 — who are either unemployed, too discouraged to look for work or simply left the labor force that number is now 27 percent, over a quarter. And it’s up from 19 percent a decade ago.

So, this is the concern. This is the problem. Now, many of those young people are spending more time in school. And that’s the reason they’re not out in the job market. And that may be a bad thing.

But if you look at other countries — particularly other developed countries (Western Europe, Japan) – that have a similar percentage and motivation for young people to go to school, our rate — that 27 percent — is much higher than in those other countries.

So, it does perhaps suggest that we have some special issues here. And it does raise some questions, for example, for my industry — the education industry, particularly the higher education industry — about whether we’re doing enough to prepare young people for work.

Are they getting the right skills? Are they getting the right counseling? Are they getting the right majors to match up to jobs that will be available? So, I think this is all raising very, very good issues. Now, I’ll end on one piece of good news. Surveys show that young people, interestingly, are still very upbeat about their economic future.”

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