Young Adults Hit By Unemployment As Older Workers Avoid Retirement

“For every member of the millennial generation frustrated that she can’t start a career, there may be a baby boomer frustrated that he can’t end one.”

Writing in the National Journal, Ronald Brownstein explores an interesting dynamic of the recession: young adults are facing devastating unemployment rates while older worker have barely been affected.

The employment rate among older Americans (55+) is almost exactly what it was before the recession (see the graph below). The main cause: many older workers saw their retirement savings evaporate during the crisis and aren’t ready to leave the work force yet. Meanwhile, the recession hit young adults harder than any other age group, in part because of the decrease in job openings made available by older people leaving the work force.

Graph by The Brookings Institution

Some unemployed young adults are using this down time to increase their education and skills base. But Brownstein says we’ve also seen a concerning increase in “idleness” – young people who are neither working nor in school. Workers of all ages, if they want to receive Social Security checks and other benefits in the future, have an interest in ensuring young adults get off into working life on the right foot.

“Upside Down: Why millennials can’t start their careers and baby boomers can’t end theirs.”
National Journal // Ronald Brownstein // June 9, 2011

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