Young Americans Left Out Of Obama's 'Jobs Recovery'

August 2, 2013

A (New) Lost Generation: As the media focus on a slight drop in unemployment, an ugly trend gets ignored: the declining participation of young Americans in the job market. We'll pay for this for decades to come.

We keep hearing the job market is "improving" or even "solid," with 162,000 new positions created in July and unemployment falling to 7.4%, the lowest since 2008.

But one group is sitting it out. And it's the one that most enthusiastically embraced Barack Obama in both of his presidential elections: America's young.

Their unemployment rate is a shocking 16.1%. Increasingly, those ages 18 to 29, the so-called millennials, are being left out of the market, with tenuous or no ties to the workplace. Just 43.6% of this group have full-time jobs, according to Gallup.

So what are they doing? As a new Pew Research report shows, many are just hanging around their parents' houses; 21.1 million young Americans live with their folks, more than ever.

Over at Power Line blog, Joe Malchow crunched some not-very-pretty numbers on youth labor-force participation. Participation among 18-to-19-year-olds has declined 11.3% since Obama took office. For those ages 20 to 24, it has dropped 3.4%.

These are the biggest declines for any age cohort. And if they aren't bad enough, teen unemployment among blacks is an unbelievable 41%.

To the pundits, this is all "mystifying." But it isn't really. Call it decline by design.

The president's regulatory siege, tax hikes on entrepreneurs, the imposition of ObamaCare and a senseless 42% hike in the minimum wage since 2007 have conspired to price young workers out of the job market.

Employers hire only those whose productivity exceeds their pay. When wages and the cost of regulation and health care rise, there's little room on the payroll for young, inexperienced workers.

The temptation is to minimize the problem, thinking these young people will catch up. But they won't.

For generations, Americans have learned their basic work ethic in low-paying starter jobs. They learned they won't always like what they do, but that they should do it well anyway and that hard work is usually rewarded. They learned to show up on time, dress appropriately, be polite and follow instructions.

These are the basics of productivity that make our economy work. What lessons will millions of young men and women learn as they while away their time playing computer games in their parents' basements?

And this is the generation we're counting to shoulder the increasing entitlement costs for the nation's elderly. With $70 trillion in current liabilities, who's kidding whom?

As we said, this is no accident. It's bad enough that more than 130 million mostly older Americans get regular checks from government. Now the liberals in charge in Washington seem to want a whole new generation of dependents — needy young people who also rely on government and see the wealth-creating private sector as something scary and chaotic.

If that's their plan, it's working — all too well.

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