William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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MORE NEWS OF THE RECOVERY – AT 12:24 P.M. ET:  We are constantly told by the economic geniuses of the Obama administration that we are in a recovery.  A big recovery.  No doubt.  The boom is right around the corner.  Tofu in every refrigerator and an electric car in every garage.

Well, uh, don't tell that to some recent college graduates.  They see things differently.  From the Philadelphia Inquirer: 

Recent college graduates and even those who have been out of school for several years now are finding an increasingly harder time getting a job in this economy.

The amount of young adults – from ages 18 to 29 – who are unemployed rose over 1.5 percent in January to 13.1 percent, according to statistics released Friday. The overall unemployment rate had a smaller increase - rising 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the jobless rate has been steadily declining the past few years since the recession, people of all demographics are still suffering from the repercussions, working a job outside of their chosen field just to have a form of income, and many not even able to find work.

The young adult age group makes up a large percentage of this trend, and experts believe new strategies are needed in order to bring in more jobs for the youngest group in the labor force.

Terence Grado, the policy director for Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan organization advocating for young adults, believes there needs to be more of a focus on investing in private sectors and policies that will help small businesses create jobs.

“A lot of business owners are uncertain how policies like Obama Care are going to affect them,” Grado said. “When you have this, without investing in private sectors we’re going to continue to have young people sitting out on the sidelines.”

Grado pointed out that the actual unemployment rate for young adults would have risen to 16.2 percent last month if the declining labor participation – those who have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs – were accounted for in the statistics.

Grado said he believe these rising unemployment numbers are due to the fact that an increasing number of young people are taking unpaid internships just to get an opportunity in their field.

“Youth have an interesting situation because they’re going to college and taking on large amounts of debt, struggling to get their foot in their door,” he said. “It’s a generation where the longer it takes to get a job in your chosen career path the harder it is to make up for how much is spent [on investing in their career].”

According to a Pew Research Study released in February 2012, nearly half of all 18 to 34 year olds said they have taken a job they didn’t want just to pay the bills, while about a quarter said they have taken an unpaid job just to get work experience.

COMMENT:  This is probably a major factor in the declining support for Obama among young adults.  They see the reality.  They have joined the ranks of the forgotten citizens. 

And yes, only the private sector can provide the opportunities that these kids need.  Those opportunities are contracting.

Also, maybe it's time to ask whether it's necessary for so many millions to go to college.   The "college education" has become so much of a cult thing, the "thing to do."  College is vastly expensive.  Many colleges are really glorified high schools.  Most jobs really don't require a college education.  Specific training might be better. 

Happy days aren't here again.

February 3, 2013