John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Trouble for Young Adults

Posted on April 24, 2012

            This is not a great time to be graduating from college.  But it is an even worse time to skip college.


The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is near its historic high.  If you decide not to go to college, it is darn near impossible to find a decent job.


So, you can make the choice of potentially finding a job but being stuck with a bunch of student loans or deciding to skip college and living off your parents for the rest of your life.  Not a great choice.


The unemployement rate for African American kids is even worse.  It is around 35%.  Slightly more than one in three black kids have nothing to do.  That is not good.

This is a world-wide phenonomen.  Europe has terrible young adult unemployment problems.  The unemployment rate in Sweden for 18 to 25 year olds is around 30 percent.  In Spain, it approaches an astounding 50 percent.  In France, it hovers around 30 percent.  Portugal, Ireland, Greece all have terrible problems with employing kids.


If you don’t put young kids to work, they do two things.  They emigrate somewhere else.  Or they get into real trouble.  They become radicalized or they become drug addicts.  Neither results is good for a healthy society.


Young people had trouble finding jobs in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and then during the Great Depression.  That helped lead to Fascism in Germnay and Italy which ended up with the most calamitous conflict in world history.


My guess is if you look at the countries who have the highest minimum wage laws, you will find the highest unemployment of young people.  Businesses aren’t going to hire kids for wages that are beyond their capabilities.   I bet you Sweden has a pretty generous minimum wage.


The Trustees released their report on the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.  They are going broke faster than we ever thought possible.  The idea that Social Security and Medicare is going to be around (in the same form) for unemployed teens and kids in their early twenties is pure fantasy.  Sorry, guys.  And, of course, because so many of these kids don’t have jobs so they can't start paying into Social Security, that only helps to worsen the financial situation of these retirement programs.


The French are going through the same angst as we are.  They have high unemployment among young people and an expensive social welfare state that they can no longer afford.  Young people over there are not voting for Sarkozy (who trying to take steps to solve both problems) but for Le Pen’s daughter, who promises a new kind of nationalism that reminds one faintly of Mussolini.


When young people lose faith in the status quo, they look for more radical solutions.  Think back to the 1960’s in France and in America.


Throw on this powderkeg a changing environment (I don’t know if it is man-made or not, but I do know that the globe is getting warmer), where the polar ice caps melt, where drought makes water more valuable than oil in some key places, and where catastrophic weather events become more routine, and you have a fairly bleak future.


But never fear.  Technology is here.  And kids these days have more information at their fingertips than most generations had within a four mile radius.  Sadly, they use most of that technology to post stupid pictures of themselves on Facebook, which makes it even harder for them to get a job.


Strap your seat-belts on.  This should be an interesting couple of decades.