Youth unemployment rate barely budges in recent job reports

Raul Herrera/Assistant News Director

Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan youth advocacy organization, recently released its Millennial Jobs Report for December 2013 which pointed to an effective 15.9 percent non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for 18 to 29 year olds, a drop from June 2013’s 16.1 percent rate.

When it comes to causes behind the unemployment numbers, Generation Opportunity believes that it is tied to government regulation.

“I think there are a lot of causes, but it’s our view that the root cause is the fact that there’s a whole bunch of government overregulation,” said Corie Whalen, spokesperson for Generation Opportunity. “We’re having a big situation where the federal government thinks it can manage the economy, and yet what we’re seeing as a result is that entrepreneurial enterprises are being stifled, and jobs are not being created as always needed to employ millennial at healthy rates.”

In the November 2013 Millennial Jobs Report, Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg pointed to the Affordable Care Act as an example of what he believes to be bad economic policy from Washington.

Forty-nine percent of 18 to 29-year-olds approve of the president’s current job, according to a Gallup poll for the week of January 2 – 5 of 2014.

“We’ve seen small businesses especially say they aren’t hiring because they can’t afford to use the mandates in Obamacare,” said Whalen, who believes that the Affordable Care Act is one of the root causes behind these numbers.

Meanwhile, Sahara Fonseca, sophomore political science major disagrees. She mentioned sequester and the government shutdown as contributors.

“Government regulation isn’t the sole cause of the deterioration of the economy,” said Fonseca, the president of the FIU College Democrats. “Just look at the recession: it was primarily because of Wall Street, big businesses, that essentially tried to cheat the system, and then completely deter government. And plus, President Obama bailed them out. It’s essentially a little bit of government regulation that causes big businesses to retaliate with a sort of [attempt] to cheat at the system.”

Generation Opportunity’s findings were compiled through the use of government statistics according to Whalen. It collected numbers from the 18-29 demographic — data specifically from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The group is funded by several donors, which, according to a Washington Post article, include TC4 Trust and Freedom Partners. These organizations are said to be part of a donor network formed by Charles and David Koch, better known as “the Koch brothers.”

The Koch Brothers are known for their donations to fiscally conservative groups, such as Americans For Prosperity, and civil libertarian groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, according to reports by the New York Social Diary and the Wall Street Journal.

When asked about her group’s funding, Whalen stated that while Generation Opportunity is indeed supported by various benefactors who “believe in their cause,” they respected the right to anonymity of these donors like any nonprofit.

Fonseca finds that this is a way for the brothers to continue managing the economy and politics.

“They’ve been trying to maneuver their way into politics since the deficit,” said Fonseca. “The Koch brothers have been influenced by their father who did live through the Communist era, and so they’re just trying to reflect “Atlas Shrugged” ideals and they try to install their individualistic beliefs into the economy.”

“And they have a lot of power, because they have a lot of money, they have a lot of influence, and they can buy off politicians, they can create organizations,” said Fonseca.

Feinberg stated that the necessary solution to the unemployment rates is limited government involvement in the private sector.

“Well, first of all, we would love to see Obamacare replaced with more market-oriented reform,” said Whalen. “We also think that we need reform, in measures of security, all entitlements because those are slated to go bankrupt in the next decade, and our generation that’s paying into those really won’t be receiving them. We’re looking for reforms in that area as well. And overall, we need to reduce the debt burden that our generation is going to be left with.”

“We would like to see young people organized to make reforms that really treat our generation [correctly] because right now we aren’t seeing that,” said Whalen, who mentioned that young people need an organization equivalent to AARP to make sure that the youth do not receive the “short end of the stick” in policies.

Fonseca’s solution was different, pointing instead to building infrastructure for job creation.

“From a policy standpoint it would be really crucial to just have broad job creation,” said Fonseca, “Infrastructure would be a great aspect in which people can create jobs. If we stopped outsourcing jobs we could probably make a lot of jobs in the United States if we just keep creating. Unions, like AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce, they’re always working together so that way they can create more jobs through infrastructure.”

Fonseca then said that this would “automatically un-occupy regular service jobs” so that young people may be able to”maintain themselves”.

When it comes to individual 18 to 29-year-old job seekers, Whalen recommends different solutions.

“With economic freedom comes personal responsibility, so we encourage young people when they’re looking at going to college to really look at the job market for the major you’re choosing is,” Whalen said. “One of the big crises our generation is facing is that only half of us are actually using our degrees when we graduate, so I would say that young people really need to take that responsibility before they take on such a large effort to actually go to college.”

Darren Gregory, assistant director of Career Services, stressed the importance of networking and internships, as well as making oneself stand out.

Fonseca agreed, pointing to internships as being important.

“You have to have at least two internships in your resume so you can have a job,” said Fonseca.

While their opinions on political causes and solutions were different, all those interviewed seemed to want to encourage students.

“Students shouldn’t be discouraged at all,” said Fonseca. “The market is one thing, and statistics are another, but honestly, students have the drive, and with their resume and with their experience, people can make it work.”

“This does make me worrisome about the type of job that I’m going to get, but as I’m looking into the other research that they put into it, these are jobs that don’t require skills,” said Fonseca, who clarified that sometimes the jobs that are unavailable are not high-level.

Fonseca said higher education improves students’ viability for obtaining jobs, and increases their skills.

“I feel like you’re not really set to have a job, but it does qualify you more than the pool of people who don’t have jobs,” Fonseca said. “It’s statistically proven that if you do have a higher education you have more chances of achieving a job that would have better salary, you can have more stability, and it’s overall, better.”

“I’m not saying higher education will solidify your chances in the job market, but it will increase your chances of having a stable job.”


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