For jobs, young Americans worse off than Russians

The 26.2% unemployment rate for folks 25 to 34 years old also tops those of other well-off nations.

By Jason Notte May 6, 2013 1:37PM
Young man looking out the window (© Corbis)Young Americans have known how bad the job market has been for some time. At least now they have a depressing point of comparison to assure them they're not just wallowing in self pity.

David Leonhardt, The New York Times Washington bureau chief, notes that as recently as 2000, the U.S. had the lowest unemployment rate for people ages 25 to 34 years old among countries with large, wealthy economies. Now not only does is the U.S. group's unemployment rate (26.2%) higher than in countries such as Canada, the U.K., France, Japan, Australia, Russia and Germany, but the Labor Department says it's also the only group in the U.S. that saw its average wages decrease over the same span.

College graduates in that group have a far easier time of it, with the official unemployment rate for those aged 25 to 34 sitting at just 3.3%. Still, with The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranking the U.S. 16th in the world for its percentage of people 25 to 34 with college degrees, young Americans' education lags behind that of folks in other countries.

These reports just add to a deluge of bad news for fresh-faced job applicants. Right now, only one job is available in the U.S. for every three people who apply. The U.S. economy has regained 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the Great Recession. Roughly 65% of those jobs have been of the low-wage variety, though nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the slump paid middle-income wages or better, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The most common job in America since the recession is in retail sales. Those workers number 4.3 million (greater than the population of Kentucky) and make only $25,000 a year, well below the more than $45,000 national median wage.

While college students are still far better off than their less-educated peers, art school students and MBAs alike are being crushed by student debt. Deeply indebted doctorate recipients are seeking food stamps in increasing numbers. Roughly 284,000 college graduates are making minimum wage.

Even when graduates get a job, their debt doesn't get any less onerous. The Center For College Affordability & Productivity reported that nearly half of the college graduates from the class of 2010 are in jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. A full 38% have taken jobs that don't even require a high school education.

According to The Associated Press, that has dropped the median wage for college graduates significantly since 2000. The line from graduation to the retail counter stretches so far that Starbucks (SBUX), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD) are now offering training courses that qualify for college credits.

So what do younger workers have going for them? According to Pew Research polls, a whole lot of optimism that the nation's future will be better than its past.

They'll need it.

More on moneyNOW

May 6, 2013 2:51PM
I never understood why companies don't hire the unexperienced. How could the unexperienced become experienced if they never get hired!?!?
May 6, 2013 3:47PM

. Congress no longer represents the American people.  To be elected to congress cost large amounts of money and vested interests supply this money, congressman are bought and paid for before they ever take office. Also, it is estimated that for every $1 spent by lobbyists there is a $2200 return on that dollar. The money is just too big. If you look at who benefits from our current economic policy it is the big banks, large corporations and the federal government and the vested interests they protect. Americans we are going to have to face this reality and deal with it. Sorry about that!! The big question is do we have what it takes to deal with this reality????

May 6, 2013 2:57PM
You should try being the parent of young people trying to start out. Not only is the job market against them but the stupid i-Phone addiction isn't helping. Corrupt corporations took OUR jobs away in 2007-08 and deadbeat Congress never went after them. Now WE and OUR kids struggle.
May 6, 2013 3:13PM

It's all about education and training.  There are plenty of good jobs for anyone who graduates with a degree in science, math, computer science, engineering, or accounting. If college isn't your thing, well paying jobs are available for plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and other skilled trades.


Years ago a kid could graduate from high school and land a decent job with a manufacturing or construction company.  Between automation and outsourcing, those jobs are now pretty scarce.  Even college graduates without specific job skills are finding it tough to land good jobs, because companies are now less inclined to spend the time and money to train liberal arts graduates.

May 7, 2013 11:11AM

My husband and I fall into this age category and let me tell you, it's horrendous. I can't tell you how tired I get of hearing ignorant people, such as Mexbeachrat, tell me it's because we're lazy and have no work ethic. I have a bachelor's degree in communication and was hired right out of college to write for a newspaper. That paper, along with many others, went out of circulation, due to the massive amounts of free online coverage. I went back to school at a top 10 college and got a 3.97 in education. I'm certified to teach four different subjects. I substituted for years, but teachers everywhere were furloughed. Now I'm working as an administrative assistant because that's the only job I can get right now. It does not pay well and is far from rewarding.


This is no reflection on my work ethic or intellect; this is a reflection on a horrible economy caused by a terrible president and an atrocious Congress. The America I grew up in is dead. But hey, at least we can all be cheering about gay marriage rights when we're sitting in our cardboard boxes under the bridge one day.

May 6, 2013 3:18PM

Unsustainable levels of national debt act like a boat anchor on our economy.  That is why we've had sub-par economic growth since the recession "ended."  Sub-par economic growth equals fewer jobs for those looking and it also means little to no wage growth for those lucky enough to get a job.  People think this will all just correct itself but this is likely the new normal.  We need to address the spending problem in Washington.

May 6, 2013 5:04PM
I know that the liberal progressives on here will smirk at what I write but here goes.....the youth aren't getting hired for a number of reasons.  First, let me say, I have had a successful business for 35 years.  I won't hire the youth, unless I absolutely have to, because the FEDERAL GOVT. in all their infinite wisdom, has made the minimum wage at too high a level for ENTRY LEVEL workers (the young kids).  I WILL, however, hire the older person with WORK EXPERIENCE.  Also, the youth of today want a pay check BUT don't want to WORK HARD for it.  They DON'T want to work weekends. They need off, and their parents call, because they need to go to summer camp etc.  Get the picture? NOT going to happen unless a necessity. 
May 6, 2013 6:04PM
If anyone thinks Russia is a free Market or cares about Democracy, they must be smoking the good stuff. That's just pure nonsense. If anyone really thinks that the youth in Russia are better off than the youth here, then you haven't been paying attention.

I just went out shopping and I saw tons of hiring ads in store windows. Point being, many of these folks don't want to work for Min. wage. Now I get that, but I also get that you have to have money to pay the bills. Sometimes, you have to work jobs that you really don't like. Just have a plan to do better. Education or heck, start your own business. Network with others. Nothing is easy and for the most part, for the majority of folks, it has never been a given in our history concerning workers.

For so many Americans doing so bad, why do I keep seeing brand New Cars and packed Restaurants like never before. People adjust to what is happening better than before. Sometimes when local, sure, you can't avoid a bad situation unless you move. Bottom line, this article is pure bull if you believe strictly the Headline.

May 6, 2013 6:44PM
The young people want to work just as much as the older generation. The fact is... there are no jobs. Those retail jobs you hear about are part time minimum wage jobs. They want you to work 6-9:00 pm during the week and all day Saturday and Sundays. I know because I worked retail. Try paying rent on that. It's an impossible joke. The jobs all went to automation and outsourcing. It's irritating when I read all the time that people don't want to work and blah... blah... blah... That's total bs. 
May 6, 2013 3:00PM
"I never understood why companies don't hire the unexperienced. How could the unexperienced become experienced if they never get hired!?!?"
Because the idiot with the MBA in the management role doesn't know what the business actually does or how to talk to people who can't promote them. Everyone who could would and can train the nation is foraging in dumpsters since 2007-08, everyone who needs to board the next rocket to the Sun is in a corporate business platform pushing paper and buttons while the nation dies.
May 7, 2013 6:24AM
Thanks Obama (the wiz kid) for cleaning off are boots and telling us its raining
May 6, 2013 5:54PM

Is that because the youth unemployment situation in Russia is alleviated by sending them to Boston?...

May 6, 2013 3:59PM
Yes IDK very true, and one of the biggest lobbyists is EBAY trying to stop the leveling of the taxation playing field so they can continue side-stepping the fact that they are inept and a HUGE reason for the underground economy that does not pay it's fair share of taxes!  It's time that a spade is called a spade and Ebay is seen for the greedy, obsolete conglomerate it truly is and is taken down by companies with more integrity like Amazon that support fair taxation!
May 6, 2013 7:28PM
"For jobs, young Americans worse off than Russians"

How can this be? We lead the world in people fully qualified to pitch lice infested tents in public parks completely equipped with 14 year old runaways all the while philosophizing why poor people aren't hiring for entry level upper management slots.
May 7, 2013 7:46PM
Last July Democrats introduced a bill that would eliminate tax breaks for companies moving operations and jobs over seas and give large tax breaks for any moving jobs back. Republicans voted almost unanimously to block this bill claiming it didn't do enough. Yet they never introduced any bills that included the same and more. Congress needs to stop pandering to their big money funders and start working to help those that elected them.
May 6, 2013 2:21PM
When you have no college, no training to do anything and no work ethic, what do you expect.   Playing video games instead of getting an education leads to a dead end.   The unemployment rate for STEM is 2.5% and the U.S. has to import 85,000 people from Asia to fill the positions.   Young Americans are either too dumb, lazy or both to get a STEM education.
May 6, 2013 3:18PM

What is killing our economy is our fear of rag tag fringe what we call extremist groups. We fear what we should not. Even Osama Bin Laden 9/11 was equal to one months carnage on US street.


As we go and kill foreigners for legitimate reasons according to us and illegitimate according to people of foreign countries, our economy and our approval abroad will suffer. Of course every one will like to come here but they cannot and it doe not result of love for us.


We needs fear less, create less depute with foreign countries, make Israel to settle issues with Arabs and be more friendly (It is time to move on from holocaust).


If we do not fear will make us suffer and our economy will stagnat. Technology has leveled the field and foreigners are not as dumb as we were thinking and saying.

May 7, 2013 7:24PM
Yeah but one thing not mentioned is marry a foreign professional and become a free loader - I know that's what my bro-in law did! He quit his orderly job in the hospital 5 months he married my P.T. sister and he never worked. How's that? Talk about brainy Yanks!
May 7, 2013 1:21PM
In my opinion the only reason young Americans are worse off is they want the $50,000.00 a year + job. While young people in other parts of the world will take the minimum wage job and be happy they have a means of support. There is ton of unemployment in the US. The only jobs that are avalible are being filled be Illegals.
May 7, 2013 12:22PM
We are in serious trouble with the work ethic of our youth. Especially, the uneducated.
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