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OECD sees explosion in youth unemployment ahead; a lost generation

lost youth will blog for food holding signs

“spells of unemployment while young often create permanent scars through its harmful effects on a number of outcomes — happiness, job satisfaction, wages and health — many years later. Moreover, spells of unemployment tend to be particularly harmful to the individual — and to society — when the most disadvantaged youth become unemployed. This involves significant social as well as economic costs.” — OECD report

Around the developed world, young workers are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed as their older counterparts.

The chart below shows the ratio between the unemployment rates for young workers and those for the rest of the labor force.

oecd youth unemployment skyrockets

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These numbers were released last week, in conjunction with an Organization for Economic Development report on youth unemployment. (More on the report here.) The report found that young people had been disproportionately bearing the burden of high joblessness in the wake of a global recession. Source: NYTimes

A big part of the unemployment problem, and not just for youth, is that during the economic downturn many employers wouldn’t hire you unless you had 2 years or more experience, and in some cases, they wouldn’t even look at you without 5 plus years of experience.

It’s hard for anyone to get experience unless companies are willing to take them on in the first place, even if it’s at a slightly reduced wage due to their lack of experience. Take truck driving for instance with its 18-22$/hour average wage; they should be paid 16-20$ an hour if they’re under 2 years experience. Indeed, examples like these could be an argument against a state mandated minimum wage (how about a maximum wage for CEOs?). Indeed, many people believe that a minimum wage is a good thing, but what it really does is closes off entry-level positions and apprenticeship programs for many young people, especially black youngsters who see unemployment doubled than their white, asian, and indian counterparts.

Another issue, is that for years, year after year you’ve seen youth have been less and less desirable employees due to a variety of reasons, whether it’s drug usage (marijuana primarily), a complete lack of work ethics, or what many “old school” employers, even those that they themselves only graduated in the past 10-20 years from high school themselves, find to be a laziness, or of being incapable of doing manual labour.

It seems each progressing generation of youth is more & more coddled by society, whether it’s the parenting, an addiction to video games/marijuana rather than getting ready for life’s challenges outside of the relative ease of school life, or the school system itself which in many cases does not provide skills for the workplace as they’re government mandated to primarily offer more subjects that aren’t neccesarily relative to real world use for 80% of the students that graduate.

On the other hand, employers also like to import cheap labour from India, Russia and elsewhere. Many, many software and computer companies have done this in recent years especially with the advent of remote work and so called “free trade.” To the Russians and Malaysians, much of the work outsources to them from the Western world pays more than they get paid at home (but less than what we’d get paid for here) and easier work for them that nobody here is forced to do. Technical support and customer service call centers (which are not the same) are notorious for this kind of modern day sweat shop work environment.

Youth joblessness surging, OECD warns

Globe and Mail Tavia Grant
Group calls for policies to prevent a ‘lost youth generation’

Youth joblessness has surged across the industrialized world, and is likely to stay high for the next two years, the OECD has warned.

Young people were hit especially hard through the global economic crisis, with the jobless rate among OECD countries jumping to almost 19 per cent last year, from around 13 per cent before the recession.

Nearly 15 million youths, those between 15 and 24, are now unemployed across the area. In countries like France and Italy, one in four are jobless. In Spain, it’s 40 per cent. Even Canada – which saw a milder recession than elsewhere – youth jobless levels have shot up to 15.6 per cent, and actually crept higher last month.

And it’s not going to improve any time soon, the report said.

“The short-term prospects for youth unemployment in the OECD countries remain rather gloomy,” the 34-page report said. Youth were “among the first to lose their jobs and are finding it particularly difficult to get another one.” Source: Globe and Mail


  1. Magpie Magpie April 21, 2010

    I can hardly wait to see how this conversation progresses.

    People will say that my generation is the laziest one, that kids today have no work ethic etc and I say that is totally untrue.

    It is a different world now then it was when older generations were entering the working world. Now you need university for entry level clerical positions that would previously have gone to someone who didn’t complete high school. And then you have massive or maybe moderate student loans.

    They work us to the bone on contracts which provide no financial stability, ability to plan a family or to buy a home and we are fired at a moments notice.

    Emotionally I myself am a strong person, but being educated and having worked for the four years since my degree was placed into my hand at lowerpaying contract clerical jobs while literally applying and customizing my resume for 250 jobs in the last year and only getting a (clerical and low paying) permanent job this year, I was frustrated and beaten down by this process.

    I am not blaming any generation I just wish people wouldnt see one jerk kid my age behaving badly on the subway and assume we are all unemployable.

    Its not that easy to be a younger Canadian today, its expensive to go to school, its hard to earn enough money to buy a house (basically impossible if you are living at home), really hard to find jobs since there is no mandatory retirement anymore, and its a recession. I know all generations have struggled but its hard to hold your head up while you are waiting for the next smack in the face.

  2. David Jeremiah David Jeremiah July 5, 2010

    Alan Greenspan and Ben Benanke would never take responsibility to this mess. But they will dare to claim their pay check monthly. Yes, together with Obama they inherited this mess but they will never ever admit that when the Stimulus Package was distributed there were other ways of distribution which could have helped more people. But they wanted the too big to fail to be saved first. I hope that will tell the People Clearly where their heart is.

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