While the U.S. economy has grown slightly over the past year, more than 14 million Americans are out of work. Economists who don’t see the labor market improving in the near future call it a “jobless” recovery. The number of “discouraged workers” has gone up. In July the percentage of young Americans holding jobs was 48.9, the lowest rate on record since statistics began to be recorded in 1948. The problem is global; the United Nations reports that global youth unemployment is at an all-time high, with more than 80 million people ages 16 – 24 out of work.
Not only is work hard to find, but because of the ongoing slump in housing prices, more and more workers who might have considered a move to a better job market are stuck. About one-third of homeowners owe more on their mortgages than the value of their home, which limits their mobility as job-seekers. Their careers are grounded, because they would suffer a huge financial loss if they had to sell their house. Nationally this situation is making the labor market less efficient. In other words, employers and employees aren’t necessarily finding their best match.
Some job growth has occurred as a result of the federal government’s stimulus efforts—for example, the “Cash for Clunkers” program that encouraged car purchases, and the first-time homebuyer tax credit that spurred home sales. But the engine of the economy—consumer demand—is stuck in neutral, and so is job creation. Business owners see how reluctant consumers are to spend and so are slow to hire more workers.
- Unemployment Report Indicates “Jobless” Recovery
This story discusses the nature of unemployment in terms of the “jobless” recovery from the recent recession.
(Source: NPR, August 7, 2010)
- Global Youth Unemployment at All Time High
This report on global youth unemployment highlights the effects of the continuing recession in many parts of the world.
(Source: VOA News, August 25, 2010)
- Devalued Homes Anchor Prospective Job Seekers
This story connects issues of unemployment, job-seeking, and the down housing market; includes an interactive U.S. map showing areas of the nation worst hit by falling housing prices.
(Source: NPR, August 26, 2010)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Web site of the BLS includes vast amounts of official economic data on work and employment plus related stories to help make sense of it all.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed September 1, 2010)
- What Do You Like?
News about unemployment can be discouraging, but it’s important, and never too soon, to be thinking about career choices; this interactive Web site introduces multiple occupations, answering questions like What is this job like? How much does this job pay? What about the future?
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed August 31, 2010)
- The Unemployment Game
This online activity can help you learn to make sense of economic data like the unemployment rate and other statistics related to labor markets.
(Source: EconEdLink.org; accessed August 31, 2010)