Jobs Crisis Spreads to Young Workers Worldwide

September 14th, 2012 | Tula Connell

Credit: Joe Kekeris

Young workers in the euro zone have been among the hardest hit by the global economic crisis, and now even those in regions like East Asia, where economies have remained strong through the recession, are struggling to get jobs, a new International Labor Organization (ILO) report shows (click chart to enlarge).

As the euro area crisis continues in its second year, the impacts are spreading further, slowing down economies from East Asia to Latin America. Other regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, that had expected faster improvements in their youth labor markets will now take longer to revert to levels seen prior to the global financial crisis.

As a result, young workers in Europe (ages 15 to 24) are turning to part-time employment and increasingly finding work in the informal sector (jobs not taxed by the government or included in the gross domestic product [GDP]). Some 17 percent of young European workers are in the informal sector, compared with 7 percent for prime age workers. The report also points out there is a vast disparity among European countries: Youth unemployment rates range from more than 50 percent in Spain and Greece to less than 10 percent in Germany and Switzerland.

In the United States, nearly 24 percent of young workers between ages 16 and 19 are unemployed. The employment picture also is bleak for young workers with college degrees. Only half of those who graduated between 2006 and 2011 have full-time jobs. More than half are saddled with college debt (the median amount is $20,000) that is shaping their life choices. For example, more than one-quarter live with their parents, and more than half get help from their families to meet basic needs.

The ILO is calling for countries to provide employment or training guarantees for targeted groups of young people, citing estimates that such programs cost less than half a percent of GDP among European countries.

Check out the ILO’s full report.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO on September 6, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee they were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union (the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism (covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia) she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

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