For the graduating class of 2012, summer should be a time to celebrate. But while overall U.S. unemployment has continued to drop to a little over 8 percent -- in part because many Americans have simply given up looking for work -- America's youngest workers are still facing double-digit unemployment. Even bachelor's degree holders are faring badly -- one out of every two was either jobless or underemployed in 2011, and 2012 isn't looking much better.
To combat this epidemic, the Young Entrepreneur Council launched a national #FixYoungAmerica campaign earlier this spring. So far, the response has been incredible, especially from Gen Yers already feeling the pinch.
In April, we held a #FixYoungAmerica rally on 300+ college campuses in all 50 states, in which tens of thousands of students participated -- including those photographed here. These grassroots efforts were covered widely, with media outlets from The New York Times to MTV jumping on board. And in May, we released #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of essays written by nonprofit founders, educators, politicians and entrepreneurs who shared their own entrepreneurial solutions for ending the youth unemployment crisis in America.
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Unfortunately, throughout the rally, campaign and our grassroots outreach efforts, what we uncovered is just how bad chronic unemployment really is for young people right now -- and we keep uncovering more evidence that the situation isn't changing, week after week. The fact is, young Americans need all the help they can get, and they need it now.
What are young people up against? Take a look for yourself:
- The current unemployment rate among young workers aged 20-24 is 13 percent.
- 1 out of 2 college grads -- about 1.5 million, or about 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree holders age 25 or younger -- were unemployed or underemployed in 2011.
- Fewer than half of college grads from the class of 2008 to today found jobs within a year of graduation -- down from 73 percent.
- The majority of the 79 million U.S. Millennials are either unemployed, underpaid, or weighed down with student loans.
- 25 percent of Millennials have more debt than savings.
- Around 94 percent of college students receive their diploma while carrying debt.
- For high school grads (age 17-20), the unemployment rate was 31.1 percent from April 2011-March 2012; underemployment was 54 percent.
- For young college grads (age 21-24), unemployment was 9.4 percent last year, while underemployment was 19.1 percent.
- 3 in 5 young college grads are unemployed or underemployed in the Mountain West region of the United States. The next-worst regions for being a young college grad looking for work? The Southeast and Pacific regions.
- The share of employed young adults (aged 18-24) is at a 60-year low. It has dropped to 54.3 percent -- the lowest level since government began tracking it in 1948.
- The unemployment rate for young Americans under 25 is twice that of the general population.
- Only 56 percent of American teenagers believe they’ll be as well off as their parents financially-- a 37 percent drop since 2011.
- Only 1 in 5 college grads thinks their generation will be more successful than the generations before them.
- Only 18 percent of American teens say they’ll be financially independent when they turn 20 -- compared to 44 percent in 2011.
- The 15-percentage-point gap between young and working-age adults right now is the widest in recorded history.
- While overall unemployment is around 8 percent, 29.1 percent of young male veterans and 36.1 percent of young female veterans age 18-24 were unemployed 2011—compared to 17.6 and 14.5 percent, respectively, of nonveteran young men and women.
- Young American women still earn less than young American men, regardless of their educational background.
- According to some researchers, up to 95 percent of job positions lost occurred in low-tech, middle-income jobs like bank tellers. Gains in jobs are going to workers at the top or the bottom, not in the middle.
- More college graduates are getting low-level jobs, period. U.S. bachelor’s degree holders are more likely to wait tables, tend bar or become food-service helpers than to be employed as engineers, physicists, chemists or mathematicians combined -- 100,000 versus 90,000.
- More recent grads are working in administrative jobs than in all professional computer jobs out there -- 163,000 versus 100,000.
- More college grads are cashiers, retail clerks or customer representatives than engineers -- 125,000 versus 80,000, to be exact.
- Of young Americans aged 18-34, half have taken a job they didn't want in order to pay bills.
- Of young college graduates from the class of '08 to today, four in 10 took jobs just to get by.
- 24 percent of young Americans aged 18 to 34 said they took an unpaid job for work experience.
- According to new U.S. government projections, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings in the next eight years will require a bachelor's degree or higher. Most job openings by 2020 will be in low-wage professions like retail sales, fast food and truck driving.
- More than 35 percent of young Americans went back to school because of the economy.
- 31 percent of young Americans postponed getting married or having a baby due to their financial situation.
- Since 2006, 40 percent of college grads have put off major purchases like buying homes or cars.
- One in four young Americans moved back in with their parents AFTER living on their own.
- Median earnings for young African Americans are only 75 percent of the earnings of whites. For young Latinos, the number is even lower -- 68 percent.
- Between 2000 and 2011, the wages of young high school grads declined by 11.1 percent; of young college grads, 5.4 percent.
- Almost half -- 41.3 percent -- of 25 to 34-year-old young Americans spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent every month.
- The majority of recession-era college grads rely on financial help from their families.
- Credit card debt has risen 81 percent among young Americans aged 25-34 since 1989.
The student loan default rate rose 31 percent over just two years.
- Student loan debt is reaching debt-bubble proportions -- it recently topped $1 trillion (and exceeds total credit card debt in the United States).
- Two out of three college students now graduate with student loan debt. Average tuition is three times higher today than in 1980.
- Average student loan debt is now more than $25,000.
- African American students are more likely to take out student loans and graduate, on average, with higher levels of debt.
- Federal student loan default rate is 8.8 percent and projected to rise.
- Of employed young Americans aged 18-34, less than half think they have the education and training they need to get ahead in their jobs today.
- More than 53 percent of U.S. companies say they’re having trouble finding skilled non-managerial employees, in spite of the high number of unemployed Americans.
The situation is equally dismal for high school grads. Some 37 percent of high school students who graduate today are unemployed, in comparison to the 23 percent of those who graduated before the recession.
- The total percentage of today's high school graduates who are looking for a full-time job -- including those who are doing so while keeping a part-time position -- is 45 percent.
- High school grads may be hopeful, but their long-term view isn't as optimistic. Half are hopeful they'll start a new job within the year, while the other half have no idea when they'll be employed full-time.
- Close to half of today's high school graduates say they have been actively seeking employment over six months, and 30 percent have been looking for over a year.
- Over 80 percent of high school graduates currently applying for full-time positions have yet to receive a job offer since they began applying.
Of the few who have received offers since starting their job search, the median number of offers was two.
- Eighty percent of high school grads don't expect to be more financially successful than their parents — with college graduates sharing similar sentiments.
- After leaving high school, graduates' job prospects aren't promising. 88 percent of high school students were paid by the hour at their first jobs after graduating. Their median wage was $7.50 — just 25 cents over the federal minimum wage.
- 75 percent percent of high school graduates' first jobs were temporary positions, and 50 percent were only part-time.
- Since graduation, high school students only make very little progress. Despite raises, the same number still find themselves in temporary positions, compensating them with hourly wages.
- Although 92 percent of young Americans aged 21-24 said they felt entrepreneurship education was vital given the realities of the new economy and job market, more than half (56 percent) were never offered entrepreneurship classes at all.*
- Most -- 62 percent -- students who were offered entrepreneurship classes said they didn't feel the classes prepared them enough to start a business.*
- Meanwhile, even though young people actively want to start new companies, the rate of new startup creation is plummeting. According to Census Bureau data, the rate of newly created startups has plummeted to 7 from 9 percent in 2008 (and 11 percent in 2006).
- Only 394,632 new startups were established in 2010, in comparison to 544,109 in 1987 — a drop of 28 percent.
- During the 1980s recovery, startups supplied 20 percent of total private-sector U.S. employment, versus only 12 percent now.
- Entrepreneurs created 40 percent of all new jobs during the 1980s recovery, compared with under 33 percent during today's recession.
- Though the Startup Act was just introduced in Congress, the U.S. currently does NOT offer any specific visa for foreigners who wish to start up in America.
- Not surprisingly, then, 72 percent of youth said they do not feel they have enough support from banks, up from 65 percent in 2010.*
- 86 percent of recent grads feel they do not have enough support from the government (YEC/Buzz 2011).*
- And finally, 52 percent of young Americans 18-29 feel the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.
*Data is from the 2011 Youth Entrepreneurship Survey conducted by Buzz Marketing Group and the Young Entrepreneur Council (of young Americans ages 21-24).
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist and TV host, and the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. He is also an active angel investor and author of the book Never Get a "Real" Job.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.