WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAU) -- The economy may be slowly improving, but many people under 30 years old are not seeing the effects. That’s according to a national non-partisan youth advocacy group called Generation Opportunity, which tracks employment statistics for the 18-to-29 year old age group.
Corie Wahlen is their spokesperson. She says we may hear about 7 to 9 percent nationwide unemployment, but it’s much worse than that for young people. “At Generation Opportunity, we do a millennial jobs report monthly, and we’re finding that the youth unemployment rate still hovers at just below 16% for my demographic.”
Wahlen says her demographic is not just kids looking for summer jobs, it’s young men and women between 18 and 29 years old.
She says the way the economy and job markets are now, people trying to enter the workforce right out of school are often having a tough time because of what government policies have done to every part of the economy. “Policies that unfortunately put more debt on millennials, while not really creating the field that allows for that opportunity, whether it’s your first job, whether it’s relief from increased student loan debt, so yes, these are causing problems for the broader economy, too. Young people aren’t starting families or buying houses.”
Several politicians and organizations have been pushing for changes in health care, and increases in the minimum wage. Wahlen says Generation Opportunity does not support these efforts. “One of our concerns is that a lot of the policies we’re seeing from government, whether it’s something like Obamacare or a proposition to raise the minimum wage, These are things that are taking really from my generation in the sense that Obamacare makes healthcare more expensive for my demographic. Raising minimum wage hurts entry-level jobs. The things that sound good on paper are actually holding us down more.”
Wahlen is encouraged by efforts in schools, technical colleges, and some universities to work with business and industry closely to recruit trainees for the high-skill jobs that companies have difficulty filling.
Generation Opportunity Director Patrice Lee says the unemployment numbers for young people are bad. Counting those that have given up searching for work, the average unemployment is 15.4%. The unemployment rate for African-Americans under 30 is 23.1% and the rate for Hispanics is 16.2%. All women under 30 are at 13% unemployment. Nearly 2 million people under 30 say they gave up looking for work due to a lack of jobs.