The unemployment rate may not garner the headlines it did when it was around 10 percent, but the lack of jobs, especially for the younger generation just entering the workforce, will have a long-term and lasting impact on the economy if it isn't addressed.
The unemployment rate in July rose a fraction of a percentage to 6.2 percent in July. Experts say the increase came as more people entered the job market, hopeful that a turning economy will provide them with opportunity. But opportunity for 18-29 year olds entering the workforce remains abysmal.
According to a report last week from Generation opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization, the unemployment rate for that age group is 10.5 percent. Add in those who have given up looking for work and the rate is 15.1 percent.
"The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.926 million young adults that are not counted as 'unemployed' by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs," the report noted.
The younger generation just out of high school, college or a trade school needs to enter the workforce to begin building for their future. Many also have student loans that need repaying, and if they can't find employment that will result in a higher percent of defaults.
But even if they are able to pay back that loan, the younger generation is starting to build for its future. The jobs they get typically are lower in the pay scale, and they have to work their way up in order to become more financially secure.
That security, and some savings, is essentially when they decide that they want to purchase a home.
In short, we need a continual flow of people working their way of the career ladder, increasing their pay and becoming financially secure in order to ensure that the economy continues to improve. The more youngsters defaulting on loans, or just having to struggle to get by, means that they are less likely to be tomorrow's purchasers of big ticket items that will drive economic growth.
We need to find ways to get today's younger workers into jobs so they can begin to build for their future, and that should be a priority for Congress when members return from their August break.