The PJ Tatler

Millenials' Jobless Rate: 12.7%

The bad jobs report out today from the BLS has a lot of underlying data that shows the jobs situation in America is much worse than the “official” 8.3% unemployment rate.


James Pethokoukis:

– Not only is the 8.3% unemployment rate way above the 5.6% unemployment rate that Team Obama predicted for July 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus plan. It’s way above the 6.0% unemployment rate they predicted if no stimulus was passed.

– Job growth, as measured by nonfarm payrolls, has average about 75,000 jobs a month during the Obama recovery for a total of 2.7 million jobs. Context: During the first three years of the Reagan Recovery, job growth averaged 273,000 a month for a total of 9.8 million. If you adjust for the larger U.S. population today, the Reagan Recovery averaged 360,000 jobs a month for a three-year total of 13 million jobs.

– This continues to be the longest stretch of 8% or higher unemployment since the Great Depression, 42 straight months.

– If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.0%.

– Even if you take into account that the LFP should be declining as America ages, the unemployment rate would be 10.6%.

– If labor force participation rate hadn’t declined since just last month, unemployment rate would have risen to 8.4%.

– The broader U-6 unemployment rate, which includes “all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons,” ticked up to 15.0%.

– Two years ago, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote his now-infamous “Welcome to the Recovery” op-ed for the New York Times. During those two years, the economy has added an average of just 137,000 jobs a month.

– Not only is the 8.3% unemployment rate way above the 5.6% unemployment rate that Team Obama predicted for July 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus plan. It’s way above the 6.0% unemployment rate they predicted if no stimulus was passed.


Then there is the plight of the Millenials — 18-29 year olds who have come of age in the last decade. This group supported President Obama by a 2-1 margin in 2008. But, what Pethokoukis calls a “Labor Market Depression,” has hit the young harder than any other group.

The grass roots organization Generation Opportunity gives us the grim statistics:

  • The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for July 2012 is 12.7 percent (NSA). Additional notes: the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for July 2012 is 22.3 percent (NSA)the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for July 2012 is 14.0 percent (NSA); and the youth unemployment rate for 18–29 year old women for July 2012 is 12.6 percent (NSA).
  • The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.715 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor (BLS) because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
  • If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.7 percent (NSA).

Generation Opportunity President Paul Conway:

“Today’s unemployment number is another indicator of the far greater, more fundamentally devastating, and still under-reported story impacting young Americans. For nearly three and half years, young Americans have experienced historically high unemployment levels – levels that are among the highest since the end of World War II – that tell the story of millions of delayed dreams and careers of the next greatest generation.

“Instead of aggressively embracing policies that liberate businesses to create more jobs, the President and his appointees have pursued an agenda that suffocates economic opportunity under the weight of more spending, higher debt, more regulations, and higher taxes. For young Americans, the message from their government is clear – we are not responsible if our destructive policy decisions eliminate your plans for full-time, meaningful jobs in a career path of your choice. Even worse, elected officials in Washington are proving themselves to be coldly distant from the human costs of unemployment, the personal stresses and frustrations that come from the uncertainty surrounding unemployment.


To be sure, our young people are far better off than many youth in Europe where Spain and Greece both have unemployment rates for the young above 50%. But the rate of unemployment only tells half the story. How many of the millenials are underemployed or working part time? Only 41% of 18-29 year olds are working full time. Fully 77% of young people have put off some sort of major, life changing decision like buying a home, starting a family, getting married, or moving to another city.

It is possible that the Millenials will reject President Obama in 2012, but I think it more likely that the turnout for this group goes back to historic levels. This is significant because it will cost the president several million votes as the young stay home in droves. An extraordinary 43% of 18-29 voters in 2008 were first time voters. How many of them will become cynical about politics and return to apathy?

If many of them do, it will because of the failure of the president to deliver on the economy.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member