April Jobs Report Paints a Bad Picture for Young Adults

PHOTO: Sandra Bonham (C) and other people looking for work stand in line to apply for jobs during a job fair at the Miami Dolphins Sun Life stadium on May 2, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Unemployment fell to 7.5 percent in April, according to a new jobs report released Friday by the Department of Labor. The economy added more jobs than analysts expected -- 165,000 -- and February and March figures were revised to show more job gains than originally reported.

But the picture is far less rosy for young people.

Conservative nonprofit youth advocacy organization Generation Opportunity crunched the numbers and found that the effective unemployment rate for 18 to 29 year olds is slightly more than 16 percent. That figure includes people the Labor Department no longer counts as unemployed because they are no longer looking for work.

Generation Opportunity argues that many have simply given up the search because there are so few jobs. As high school and college graduates across the country collect their diplomas this month, thousands will do so without anything lined up.

The numbers are especially discouraging for young African-Americans and Latinos. According to Generation Opportunity, the April unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans is 20.4 percent and for Hispanics in the same age bracket it's 12 percent.

Those figures aren't surprising considering overall African-American unemployment for April is at 13 percent while it's at 9 percent for Hispanics. Part of the reason for this is that industries that Hispanic workers have typically gravitated toward, such as construction, have struggled to rebound. Friday's report showed few gains in construction over the last month.

"It is a rough time to be a young person in America," Generation Opportunity President and former Republican congressional candidate Evan Feinberg said in a statement. "Half of all graduating seniors aren't going to find meaningful work in the coming months."

There's also the perception that politicians don't care about youth unemployment.

"[Politicians] spent this week pushing an internet sales tax which hits our generation hardest. Reckless policies coming from Washington continue to prevent the next generation from prospering," Feinberg said.

While Generation Opportunity is a conservative nonprofit, the sentiment that young people are being left behind comes from both sides of the aisle.

"Young people of all races and ethnicities are having a hard time establishing a career path, but African American and Hispanic workers fare worse with higher unemployment rates even in the best of times and an earnings gap that has yet to be successfully eliminated through policy or practice," Left-leaning think tank Demos noted in a recent report. "The opportunity for an equal shot at economic success is one of America's great strengths, offering young people the incentive to strive and a reason to believe in the future of the country. The systematic exclusion of young people of color from that opportunity weakens the promise of America now and in the future, jeopardizing our social cohesion, civic participation, and economic progress."

President Obama included a "Pathways Back to Work Fund" in his 2014 budget that would devote $2.5 billion to summer and year-round employment opportunities for low-income young people between 16 and 24. But partisan bickering has surrounded the budget proposal and young adults remained unconvinced that Congress has their best interests at heart.

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