Recent data shows that the unemployment rate among Americans aged 16 to 24 who are not in school has jumped to a stunning 52.2 percent, the highest rate since World War II. The linked story indicates that the future for these young adults doesn’t look great, either. Small businesses, which traditionally create more than half of the jobs in America and which often hire young workers, are struggling in the current recession and aren’t the focus of the federal government’s stimulus and bailout economic recovery strategy. A government database also suggests that it can take 15 years to overcome the setback of graduating from high school or college without a ready job.
The deeper, more insidious consequences of this extensive unemployment probably are sociological. Many of these unemployed young adults must live with their parents. How are they dealing emotionally with continued dependence on their parents at precisely the time they expected to be independent? What kind of work ethic are they developing as they live at home, sleep in, and hang out with their fellow unemployed high school classmates? How are their parents coping with the additional expenses that flow from supporting grown children and the impact on their retirement planning?