from the Wall Street Journal, 4/6/13, Ben Casselman writes Number of the Week: Youth Unemployment at 22.9%?
Perhaps no group has been hit harder by the recession and grinding recovery than the young. The official unemployment rate for those under age 25 is 16.2%, more than double the rate for the population as a whole. In percentage terms, unemployment has fallen far more slowly for young people than for the wider population.
When the recession began in December, 2007, 59.2% of the under-25 population was in the labor force, meaning they were either working or looking for work. Today, that figure has fallen to 54.5%. That may not sound like a big drop, but it makes a huge difference. If the so-called participation rate had remained unchanged, there would be 1.8 million more young people in the labor force today than there actually are. Counting those people as unemployed, rather than out of the labor force, would push the unemployment rate up to 22.9%. That’s only a hair better than the 23.9% youthunemployment rate in the euro zone, and has shown only very modest improvement during the recovery.
At the same time that we have pushed the youth into debt to acquire college education we have devalued that education by reducing employment opportunities with wrongheaded policies. We have also devalued education by increasing its supply- more kids with a college degree- while reducing the demand for educated workers.
It seems at some point that this market will have to adjust and more of the youth will forgo a college degree, at least immediately after high school.