Youth unemployment remains low

The youth jobless numbers are staggering, and it is wrecking housing, consumer spending and marriage rates
By Oregon Tax News,

This year, the nation hit a record high unemployment rate more than 17% of 20 to 24-year-olds. The Labor Department reports that even young adults with college degrees face a 9.3% jobless rate. The figure doubles for older graduates. In fact, the employment-to-population ratio for those ages 16 to 24 reached an all time low of 42.6 percent.

As if skyrocketing unemployment rates are not enough, the Pew Research Center indicates that a large number of employed workers in their 20s, more than any other age group, lost hours or were cut down to part-time status. The research center expects these low wages to depress future earnings because most workers see their incomes increase slowly and steadily over the course of their careers, as opposed to sharp increases.

So how does this affect the rest of the nation? Young adults’ lower income earnings will continue to damage the depressed housing market and lower consumer spending, which comprises 70% of the U.S. economy. In addition, it could shape the way a whole generation saves and invests, with far-reaching consequences for businesses and the economy.

The recession also sparked marriage and gender trends. Experts report that only 52% of the population 18 and older is married, which is the lowest in more than a century. “Marriage is becoming more and more for those who can afford it,” said Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a private research group in Washington. “These kinds of social changes tend to be glacial, but they’re happening quickly.” In addition, the male youth unemployment rate is 5.2 percentage points higher than the female unemployment rate.

Oregon is not far from the national recession trends. In 2008, overall private-sector payroll jobs for all ages declined by 6.3 percent. Teen workers saw their job numbers fall by 22 percent in one year. Those in the next oldest age group, 19 to 21 years old, experienced the second largest decline, down almost 12 percent. In contrast, the 55 and older group saw only a 1 percent decline in employment.

Although many young adults are still optimistic about their employment future, the economy will have to turn around before American youth may thrive again.

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