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Long Term Unemployment Predictions

September 19, 2011

Long term unemployment and the Great Recession are things that I don’t believe can be completely parsed out into facts separate from our feelings. I think everyone feels some personal reaction to this all. The Marketplace radio podcast did a special episode called The Breakdown: The ripple effects of unemployment. It’s a good show. Some of it is from previous episodes (or maybe all of it, but I only recognized about half). But it’s a good recap on a lot of their jobs coverage.

People who are unemployed looking for jobs and finding out employers are discriminating against them. Discussion of the psychological impact of being unemployed greater than six months being significant: so much so that it’s on the same level as losing a spouse. Another commentator discussed how the unemployment level for those in their early 20s was something like 8% in the 1970s and was 15% in 2009 while probably greater now. The Budgeting Babe just had a post mentioning how youth unemployment affects her personally:

Moreso, I worry that my youngest two brothers, in their mid-20′s with no real work experience, tons of loan debt, and no savings, will continue to be a drain on my parents finance and eventually on mine if the trendline continues. I love them dearly … but if I stop to think about their situation for too long I become immensely panicked and uncomfortable. There’s nothing I can really do about it, other than what I’ve already done (helping with networking and resume building), and I have no real responsibility for them at the moment, but it’s scary to think that they could be 30 and have no full-time employment history.

She also mentions the loss of savings which is something common I’ve heard when discussing the young and unemployed. Loss of retirement savings, delayed ability to buy a home, possibly delaying marrying and having children, eventual delayed retirement, lower lifetime earnings. But these all start to sound like random facts and I think we forget about the individuals and what this all means on a real and catastrophic level. I’m not saying older workers haven’t been as affected in their own ways. But today I was just thinking about the 20 somethings and whether they become sort of like the depression era generation: your great grandmother who had a tendency to hoard and kept her money in the mattress and was afraid to trust banks and the stock market.

I think eventually “the economy” will recover and like all past recessions, there will be no en masse exit from the stock market. But I worry about my generation, especially those without jobs. Once mocked as the entitled generation or the trophy kids; There are still articles being released on our helicopter parents and inflated grades. But now it’s more like parachute parents and we’re at risk of turning from the most optimistic generation to the most cynical. Most of us were witness to 9/11 in our high school or college years. We watched the dot com crash in 2000 and entered the job market right before and right after the 2008 recession. We’ve never worked in a booming economy. The safety net of “college leads to a good job” was pulled out from underneath us and we’ve been working unpaid internships just to qualify for an entry level job at the same time as being called whiny and selfish by our elders. Our generation has also shouldered a significant burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But maybe beyond this our biggest challenges lay ahead of us. (Photo from Chichi)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 1:24 pm

    Thanks so much for the mention. Nice write up. It’s important to remember that behind every unemployment stat is a human story. This recession is unfortunately going to be impacting us long after the economy picks back up, I think.

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