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% youth unemployment rate in the euro zone, and has shown only very modest improvement during the recovery.
The decline in the participation rate among the young can’t all be attributed to the recession. Labor force participation among young people peaked at just under 70% in 1989, and has trended downward ever since, primarily due to rising rates of college attendance.
The decline accelerated during the recession, as many young people sought refuge in college or other forms of education or training. In a normal cycle, that might have worked out well, leaving a generation of highly educated workers ready to re-enter the job market when the economy recovered. Instead, they have been graduating into a labor market that remains deeply challenged, especially for those without much work experience. To make matters worse, many graduates are carrying hefty debt burdens, and those who can find work are often being forced to low-skill jobs.
But are these young people victims? Or are they doing this to themselves?
I was looking over the Captain’s blog and I found a post where he argues that young people are not victims.
However, before we all jump on the baby boomer generation (and don’t worry, history will be INCREDIBLY harsh on them) we have to look at our own generational selves in the mirror. Specifically, whether we deserve all these programs or not.
Of course, the question is moot and academic. I don’t think there will be any money to be paid out in the first place, but let’s just say there was. Do our generations really deserve all the unicorns, puppies, hope, and change the government says we’re entitled to? I say no and here is the reason why.
Gen X and Gen Y are doing the EXACT same thing as their baby boomer predecessors did. They are spending more money than they make. They expect other people to take care of themselves. They are entitled WAY more than the baby boomers ever were. And (most importantly) THEY VOTED IN DROVES FOR BARACK OBAMA and thus THE MORTGAGING OF THEIR OWN FUTURES.
Much as I loathe the baby boomers, the successive generations, mine included, are worse. Despite BLATANT and OBVIOUS financial problems our generations faced, we lacked the adult maturity (let alone simple 2nd grade mathematics) to turn this country around. And while the baby boomers have been voting more and more conservative, it is the younger generations through galactic stupidity, ignorance and selfishness that merely nailed a couple more nails in the US-coffin and thus our own futures.
Like I said, I doubt there will even be any money for Gen Y, Gen X and any future generations to make good on all those socialist entitlement goodies we promised ourselves. But before we start blaming previous generation’s for our current problems, we should start blaming ourselves for making our future problems worse.
We should be careful about pitying young people who are struggling to find work, and who won’t get a dime from social programs like Social Security and Medicare. They are voting to punish employers with taxes and regulations. Most of them don’t know or care about what they are doing – they don’t connect their vote to their unemployed status. They think that education means jobs, and that they can vote in order to feel good and be liked, and still find work. They think that if they pay into these entitlement programs, then the money will be there. They trust Obama and they vote for him. They are not victims.