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Jobs Report Shows Continuing Pain For Young Americans


This May, thousands of young Americans walked across the stage at their graduations, collected their hard-earned (and likely expensive) degrees, and promptly moved their belongings back to their parents’ houses. They are not the first graduating class during Obama’s presidency, and they are not the first to suffer this depressing set of circumstances.

Yet today’s jobs report offers a picture of a generation that isn’t exactly gearing up for yet another “summer of recovery.” The seasonally adjusted unemployment rates remains high for this group, at 23.5 percent for 18–19 year olds and 12.9 percent for 20–24 year olds. However, seasonal adjustment masks the devastating trend of increased unemployment over April’s figures for Obama’s coveted 18–29 demographic, ticking up from 11.6 percent to 12.1 percent unadjusted. (The BLS unfortunately does not release seasonally adjusted data for 25–29 year olds.)

It makes sense that an influx of young graduates hitting the job market would cause a spike in the unemployment among these groups. It isn’t surprising to see the unadjusted numbers tick up this time of year, but that doesn’t make it less troublesome for the young grad with a resume that is getting no bites.

What is troublesome is the increase in the number of unemployed 18–29 year olds from April to May when compared to that same time frame in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, from April to May, the number of unemployed 18–29 year olds increased by 70,000.

In 2011, from April to May, the number of unemployed 18–29 year olds increased by 142,000.

In 2012, from April to May, the number of unemployed 18–29 year olds increased by 256,000.

Even if you’re critical of the use of unadjusted data, the lack of “adjustment” doesn’t explain why, year-on-year, the number of  of 18–29 year olds who become unemployed has jumped at an increasing rate as the summer kicks off. Thankfully, the unemployment rate for this group has very, very slightly ticked downward since 2010. But that’s cold comfort to the additional quarter-of-a-million 18–29 year olds for whom May meant looking for work and finding none.