Keep the change: Nearly one in five young workers face unemployment

The era of hope and change is not working out for many of the very voters who put Barack Obama in the White House.

Here’s a fact that should give economists—and maybe President Obama’s political team—heartburn: Two years after the Great Recession officially ended, job prospects for young Americans remain historically grim. More than 17 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds who are looking for work can’t find a job, a rate that is close to a 30-year high. The employment-to-population ratio for that demographic—the percentage of young people who are working—has plunged to 45 percent. That’s the lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948. Taken together, the numbers suggest that the U.S. job market is struggling mightily to bring its next generation of workers into the fold.

Some young voters seem to have caught a bit of the Tea Party vibe.

Conway’s polling suggests that young voters could sympathize with a Republican message on cutting federal spending and the budget deficit. Three-quarters of millennials want to see federal spending reduced, she says, and three in five want to reduce the deficit through spending cuts rather than tax increases. Two-thirds say that Social Security dollars are safer “under your pillow” than with the government. Paul Conway, the group’s president, says that’s “fair warning” to Obama about how young voters view his policies.

But hey, Obama tweets. And stuff.