Millennials in the United States are facing a number of problems at this time, and unemployment is at the center of it. Having a high unemployment rate is bad for the nation as a whole, so if something can be done to help this, it would be good for the entire country, not just the millennials themselves. They have a much higher unemployment rate in comparison to the rest of the nation. There are a number of reasons behind this high unemployment rate, and it may result in severe problems for them and everyone else in the future.
This past September, the unemployment rate for Millennials was 12.7 percent. For some ethnicities it was even worse than this. Hispanics in this age group faced an unemployment rate of 14.2 percent, and for African Americans it was 16.1 percent. Anyone would consider this to be high when a recession is not currently happening, but it looks even worse in comparison to the overall civilian unemployment rate, which was 4.9 percent the same month. As this graph shows, even since 1950, there has not been a single month with an overall unemployment rate above 11 percent, let alone 12.7.
Why are millennials facing a high rate of unemployment? Many different reasons are proposed to answer this, and it seems likely that they all play a role. One important issue is scarcity of entry level jobs. This is just the type of job for a graduating college student to get, as they lack experience in the workforce and need to get a foot in the door. Older individuals with far more workplace experience have a leg up. They have the qualification required for a much larger selection of jobs, from entry level ones to managerial positions. This is not an option for the younger generation, and yet some of their jobs are being taken by those with more opportunity. There are simply not enough left for the millennials to share. There is also the often quoted paradox of needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to get experience. Many young people who want to get a good job after obtaining a degree are unable to, because they spent their time earning good grades in school instead of working the cash register at McDonalds. This means that older adults who have already spent time in the workforce may look more appealing to employers of entry level jobs. A third problem lies in the fact that baby boomers are working past their retirement age. This keeps the younger generation from being able to take many jobs which should be available for them. Baby boomers might be doing this for financial reasons, but if they retire and let the young take their jobs, their children will be able to help them financially in the future. One last factor in millennials’ high unemployment rate may be that they are pickier when it comes to jobs. The idea that the sky is the limit has been taught to many people in this generation especially, leading them to believe that they can do anything that they want. This may make them less willing to accept an unpleasant sounding job, or even one that is just not their top choice. Instead, they wait for what they view as the ultimate job, and yet it may never come.
One related issue that also bears considering is unpaid internships. In the past couple decades, internships as a whole have become a more widespread phenomenon, acting as entry level jobs to give young adults a boost into their careers. But unfortunately, many of the internships are unpaid. Unpaid internships do not help the young generation very much. All they give millennials is hope that the experience they received in their internships is enough for an employer to want to hire them, which may not be the case.
The high unemployment rate among millennials that is contributed to by the above factors is a big problem. Many people in this age group are buried in debt from paying college or graduate school tuition, and without a job or with an unpaid internship they have no way to pay it off. Over time, the cost of higher education has been steadily increasing, so students in college now build up larger debt than their counterparts did decades ago. As of 2013 the nation’s total student debt became $1.08 trillion. This is substantially lower than our government’s national debut, but is staggering nonetheless. In addition to student debt, our national debt and the social security program also pose a problem. Many people believe that millennials will be forced to pay for this, and it seems unlikely that they will be able to unless there is a major change. How will millennials manage to pay off their student debt and everything else with so many of them jobless and in unpaid internships? That is the million-dollar question, and it looks like the answer is eluding us at this point in time.