Idling Obama Economy

Slow recovery leaves youth idle, underemployed


Bloomberg reports on the disheartening toll the Obama economy has taken on America’s youth.

One in six 16- to 24-year-olds last year was idle, neither working nor attending school even for just an hour a week, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economics professor. Among 20- to 24-year-old men, almost one in five was idle last year.

As of May, 41 percent of the nation’s net decline in full- time jobs from four years earlier was among under-25-year-olds, an age group that represents just 14 percent of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Under-35-year-olds account for 65 percent of the decline in full-time employment, though they comprise only 35 percent of the labor force.

Even among young people who have full-time work, real wages have dropped, while older workers’ pay has kept even or slightly improved. Median weekly earnings after inflation fell 6 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds in full-time jobs from 2007 to 2011, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Pew Research Center in Washington.