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Happy Idle Labor Day. For most Americans, yesterday was a day to exhale. Not only do they have jobs, but they had reason to celebrate: a paid day off.
But for more than 14 million Americans, Monday was just another day in the soul-crushing reality of unemployment.
If you add in the truly despondent — the people who have simply quit looking for work — the number is roughly 23 million.
This is a national tragedy. Hardest hit are the Americans who can least afford to be out of work. The recession has hit minorities hard. The unemployment rate is 16.7% among blacks and 11.3% among Hispanics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the workforce is actually growing, and yet more able-bodied and able-minded workers have nothing to do.
But there’s a bigger trend we should be worried about. What jobs exist are held by older Americans. The unemployment rate for teens is 25.4%. For workers aged 20 to 24, it’s 14.8%. Compare that with the 55-and-older category, which is at 6.6% and hasn’t topped 7.5% since the recession began.
At this rate, the post–Baby Boom generations won’t need Social Security. After all, you need a job in order to contribute to payroll taxes and earn a return for retirement.
In other words, today’s younger Americans are bearing the brunt of the recession. And beyond that, the economic slump is stealing important work experience from Generations X, Y and the Millennials.
In addition, now comes a troubling poll by Inc./WomanTrend that shows the financial and psychological toll this recession has taken on young Americans.
• More than a quarter, 27%, are delaying going back to school or getting more training.
• 28% are delaying saving for retirement.
• More than one out of five, 23%, are delaying starting a family, and 18% are putting off getting married.