Many Americans are treading water. Actually they’ve sunk. And National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers says “to get back to the surface, we’ve got a long way to go.”
But are we ready to start swimming again? The March unemployment numbers seem to show we are on the right track. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report the “nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7%.”
Although this is certainly a positive, there are reasons to temper optimism:
- The number of people working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased to 9.1 million
- The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 414,000
- The unemployment rate for teenagers was at 26.1%
- 48,000 of the employment increase is due to temporary hiring of census workers
As the following chart from Calculated Risk shows we have a long way to go to eliminate the precipitous drop in the ratio of employed Americans to the total adult population:
Even as there has been a slight uptick in the total employed population there continues to be a rise in underemployment. A new Gallup poll finds that, “20.3% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in March – a slight uptick from the relatively flat January and February numbers.” Fixing the underemployment problem is key to young adults future. Millennials are a generation of choice. Whether it be iPod playlists, Netflix accounts, or Twitter followers, we crave options.
But as Michael Barone points out,
It’s hard to get that kind of satisfaction in this kind of economy. My relatives in Michigan, the nation’s No. 1 unemployment state, tell me a phrase they often hear is, “At least I’ve got a job.” Not a satisfying job, not one that it makes full use of their talents and interests, not one that provides a sense of earned success. Just a job, a source of income. The kind of job in which you keep looking at the clock, counting the time before you can leave, counting the hours until the weekend comes.
Our generation doesn’t is too talented, too smart, and too passionate to while away their time on an unsatisfying job. We should not dread Mondays or the alarm clock. But to stave off productivity killing boredom we need private sector jobs. But we’re going the wrong way. The economy has already shed 8 million private sector jobs during the recession while the public sector has grown modestly over the same period. But it is the private sector that fosters entrepreneurialism and a sense of creativity. It is where job creation happens but it is also where creation happens. Where young adults can turn their ideas into products.
Unfortunately, the March job numbers provide little optimism that this is yet occurring. The nation’s economy has made progress. But we must let the Obama administration know that young adults are not complacent with modest gains. The government accomplished health care reform, now let them put as much time and effort into coming up with solutions to grow private sector jobs. Otherwise, as Barone concludes, there will be “fewer opportunities for people to choose their future. Change, maybe, but not much hope.”
by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee
read more: www.collegerepublicans.org