Although the overall labor market continues to improve, there isn't a lot of good job news for young Americans. The Economic Policy Institute's The Class of 2012 lays out how the job situation is for those 25 and younger.
The key data is the current unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is 16.4%. A couple of other data points of interest are:
- For high school grads under 25 the unemployment rate is 31%
- For college grads under 25 the unemployment rate is 9.4%
Useful data for parents trying to show the value of a college education to their kids. But even for college grads, the numbers aren't pretty.
The chart below shows the unemployment rate and the underemployment rate for college grads. The underemployment rates includes unemployed workers plus those who are working part time but want full-time work (“involuntary” part-timers), and those who want a job but have given up looking.
This chart actually understates the problem because it doesn't include data on college grads that are working in jobs they are over qualified for. Data on this is hard to come by, but the report cites a study saying close to 40% of young college grads are in jobs that don't require a college degree.
Wages for high school and college grads have also taken hit. Between 2000 and 2011 real wages for high school workers under age 25 fell by 11.1%. For college grads the decline was 5.4%.
The grim job market is a key reason more young Americans are pursuing work as independents (temps, freelancers, etc.).
In our work on the MBO Partners State of Independence study we found about 2 million Gen Yers (born 1980 to 2000) work at least 15 hours per week as independent workers. We expect to see these numbers to continue to grow.