Unemployment for Americans age 16-24 stands at a horrifying 17.1 percent, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is pretty darn happy about it. “As young Americans all across the country prepare to head into a new school year, I’m excited to say that many more will take with them lessons learned through summer jobs,” she declared in a press release, as reported by CNS News. “It’s no secret that the effects of the 2007 recession had a significant impact on job prospects for youth, but today’s report showed positive signs that job prospects for young people picked up pace in 2012.”
This is a common, tragic spectacle from the Obama Administration. Celebrating tiny reductions in his appalling economic numbers is like dancing with joy on the deck of the Titanic because the boat is sinking a little more slowly.
Except… there isn’t really anything for Solis to celebrate. “The youth unemployment rate showed a significant decline, falling to 17.1 percent – down a percentage point from last year and two points from 2010. Meanwhile, the share of young people employed in July 2012 climbed back up to 50.2 percent from its historic low last year,” she claimed.
But as CNS News pointed out, the unemployment report she’s celebrating only covered April to July… the prime summertime hiring season for temporary low-skilled jobs. The actual number of unemployed young people hasn’t really changed much over the long term, while the youth unemployment rate actually increased from April to July. This is a quintessential example of cherry-picking a few data points to manufacture “good news” – which, of course, Solis directly credited to Administration efforts at job creation.
In reality, unemployment among young people is one of the most painfully stagnant aspects of the Obama non-recovery. The unforgivably under-reported transformation of America into a part-time and temporary workforce over the past few years has forced young workers into competition with more experienced employees, for the kind of jobs that used to be their first step into the labor market. And beyond their immediate employment prospects, young people are worried about the decaying career prospects awaiting them in their thirties and beyond. Their fear of slipping into the semi-permanent group of long-term “unemployables” is palpable.
Polling data shows young voters are deeply concerned about this, and they’re not likely to be favorably impressed by bureaucrats who paint smiley faces on a grim situation.