Youth Unemployment: A Crisis That’s Already Happened

New statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) reveal that nearly 75 million youths or 12.7 percent of people aged 15 to 24 will be unemployed this year, up from 12.6 percent in 2011. In 2009, 75.4 million youths were unemployed and the situation is unlikely to improve until 2016, notes Agence France-Presse via Raw Story.

The figures are even worse — 13.6 unemployed — if those who are not seeking a job because they are continuing their education are included.

Youth employment is not approaching a crisis, but is in crisis, says the ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2012 report. The only way to address the problem is by making it a priority in policy-making, says the executive director of the ILO’s employment sector, Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, through tax incentives for private businesses to hire young workers and entrepreneurship programs that can help young people “kick-start” their careers.

All regions, even those that have somewhat recovered from the economic crisis, face major youth employment challenges, notes the ILO, which warns that the situation is “even worse” for those in developed economies “due to a massive drop-out in the labor force.”

Youth unemployment declined slightly to 14.3 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and to 17.6 percent in central and south-eastern Europe; in the latter region, the economic crisis seems to have led to more youths participating in the workforce due to poverty. It is highest in the Middle East, at 26.5 percent; in North Africa, following the Arab Spring protests that started last year, it is 27.9 percent. It is 11.5 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 13.5 percent in south-east Asia and the Pacific. Even though East Asia’s economy remains strong, unemployment is 2.8 higher for young persons than for adults.

The ILO singles out austerity measures implemented by governments across Europe in the ongoing economic downturn as “fueling” youth unemployment, says CNBC. Youth unemployment is notably high in countries where the economic crisis has hit hardest. Both Greece and Spain have youth unemployment rates of over 50 percent.

In most regions, youth unemployment rates are higher for women than for men, though the reverse is the case in developed economies. Moreover, even when young persons have jobs, these are in areas that are unlikely to sustain them in the long-term:

Many young people are trapped in low-productivity, temporary or other types of work that don’t pave the way for better jobs. In developed economies, youth are increasingly employed in temporary and part-time jobs while in the developing world many perform unpaid work supporting informal family businesses or farms.

On Monday I watched students from my college graduate: One student had taped the words “LOOKING FOR WORK” onto her mortarboard. I know she’s not alone: More than a few of my students who graduated a few years ago are still looking for full-time jobs in the subjects they studied. While looking (and they do keep sending out their resumés), they work a couple of part-time jobs one of which is always in retail, be it scooping ice cream or selling shirts at the mall or ringing up customers’ groceries at the supermarket. Many still, like it or not, live with their parents. Many have student debt in the five figures from loans for college to pay back.

The ILO indeed suggests that temporary and part-time jobs have become a “trap for youth“: Why, indeed, go to college or pursue an education if it only means no job (as promised) at the end?

Related Care2 Coverage

Over Half of Young Greek Workers Have No Job

Europe’s Youth Face No Jobs, No Future

Spain, Greece and Italy Face Summer Unrest


Photo by kamshots


Huber F.
Huber F4 years ago

These guys have to get some work if they do not want to lose out on better opportunities. What about gaining support from non-governmental agencies?

Misaki Tsukahara
Misaki Tsukahara5 years ago

Probably no one will read this comment, but we can fix unemployment (youth and otherwise) if the 1% work less to set an example for other rich people:

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Ken S.
Ken S.5 years ago

That's the way things are going: fewer permanent and full-time jobs, more part-time and shift-work, not enough remuneration to last in between jobs and pay mortgages - all the result of the global economy, based on greed and exploitation. They call it economic rationalism, but it is quite irrrational, unethical and unprincipled.

june t.
june t5 years ago

Lots of good comments here

MEGAN N5 years ago

Part of the problem is this attitude of entitlement that is so prevalent these days with young people. It used to be that people worked for money and played, developed a hobby or had a family for fulfillment but now more and more people want that out of their working hours too. Well guess what people... Life is not always fair, sometimes you have to move to a new location to get your dream job. Or work as an unpaid intern or get someone their coffee as an assistant for a few years before you get anywhere. That is how people used to get this almighty experience employers are always asking for. But if you think that you are just going to walk into a job in your dream field that is sadly probably not going to happen and you will be disappointed over and over again before you give up and settle for something you hate. Also not everyone gets their dream job - that has never really been that way. When I was growing up parents worked to live. Thats how it should be... a paycheck is a paycheck.

Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

"Employment" became a problem when corporations took over.

Ernie Miller
william Miller5 years ago

it is time to start thinking local when you buy or spend. even if it means spending a little more. I recently hired a young man and his truck to do work for me instead of spending less money renting a truck from a large corperation and doing the work myself just because my money would go further in my comunity. I spend on him he on some one else and more of my money stays home to come back to me in some other fashion. Besides cheeper is not always better look where your cheep crap bought from large corperations come from, most likely some sort of a sweat shop or polution purging conglomerate.

Wim D.
Wim D5 years ago

The more automation the less people is needed so the world is really overcrowded!

Doyal D.
Doyal D5 years ago

Are tax incentives the answer? That hasn't worked on other employment arenas for adult jobs.