Two Midwestern economists suggest youth unemployment will cause long-time trouble for the U.S. economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says it’s a “huge concern.”
“We have young men and women, boys and girls in high school and college who graduate without every having had a job,” Goss says. “I mean, this is a remarkable time.”
In the year 2000, about 42 percent of teenagers had a paying job. Today, only 25 percent of teens work. Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson says the country needs a productive, young workforce.
“We don’t need a productive old workforce,” Swenson says. “We need skilled, motivated, well-trained, educated people to come all the way up, plus people that have learned how to work.”
According to the most recent statistics, 11 percent of Iowans under the age of 24 were unemployed and that doesn’t factor in college graduates who gave up their job search and went back to school for another degree. Swenson says youth unemployment is even more “severe” among minorities, especially in urban areas.
“So you end up getting two groups of the population,” Swenson says, “those with meaningful attachment to the workforce and the labor conditions and those that struggle.”
Still, Iowa’s youth unemployment rate is about five percent below the national average. Nationally, there are an estimated six million Americans in the 16- to 24-year-old age group who want to work, but can’t find a job.
The two economists made their comments during a recent appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.