Stephen Moore writes about Investors Business Daily.
Economists are scratching their heads trying to figure out a puzzle in this recovery: Why are young people not working? People retiring at age 60 or even 55 in a weak economy is easy to understand. But at 25?
The percentage of adult Americans who are working or looking for work now stands at 62.8%, a 36-year low and down more than 3 percentage points since late 2007, according to the Labor Department’s May employment report.
This is fairly well-known. What isn’t so well-known is that a major reason for the decline is that fewer and fewer young people are holding jobs. This exit from the workforce by the young is counter to the conventional wisdom or the Obama administration’s official line.
The White House claims the workforce is contracting because more baby boomers are retiring. There’s some truth to that. About 10,000 boomers retire every day of the workweek, so that’s clearly depressing the labor market. Since 2009, 7 million Americans have reached official retirement age. The problem will get worse in the years to come as nearly 80 million boomers hit age 65.
But that trend tells only part of the story. The chart above shows the real problem: The largest decline in workforce participation has been those under 25.
[...]We do no favors to the young by teaching them that they can consume or have a good time without first earning the money they spend.
I think young people are often brainwashed at a young age to think that bashing the free enterprise system and voting for socialism isn’t going to take away their jobs. But if you vote to tax and regulate the businesses who may employ you later, you’ll find that they are too busy groaning under the strain of big government to employ you.
If young people were serious about getting jobs, they’d be voting to cut subsidies on universities to lower tuition costs, to lower corporate taxes, to cut environmental regulations, to repeal Obamacare, and so on. They would be more concerned that schools teach them actual skills instead of politically correct views, and so they would be voting for school choice and for right-to-work laws, to weaken the teacher unions who are not accountable to them. They should be voting against the minimum wage hikes that will price them out of an all-important first job. They should be voting against the (more than) doubling of the national debt in the 5.5 years under Obama. Job offers are not just there independent of the legal and economic environment. And just reaching a certain age doesn’t mean that you are qualified for a job.