Tags: economy | young | adults | jobs

Economy Leaves Young Adults in ‘Depression’

By Patrick Hobin   |   Monday, 23 Jul 2012 10:19 AM

Experts are drawing comparisons between today’s young people and those of the Depression era, both of whom have been shaped by experiences of economic hardship, the Chicago Tribune reported.

With poverty spreading at record levels across the country, recent college graduates are confronting a weak labor market for the fifth year in a row, with many who are employed finding themselves stuck in low-paying jobs without benefits, living with their parents and saddled with debt, the Tribune reported.

It’s getting so bad social scientists are starting to look at how the recession will affect 20-somethings, drawing comparisons to those who weathered the Depression.

Glen Elder, University of North Carolina sociologist who has studied young adults who came of age from 1929 to 1939, told the Tribune he sees many similarities between today’s young people and those from the Depression-era, including economic expansion followed by sudden contraction, and high, stubborn unemployment. Despite bread lines and migrants, not all Depression-era families were affected equally, Elder said.

"There was not just one story, but many stories, depending on your age, gender, and circumstances," Elder, author of "Children of the Great Depression," told the Tribune.

The economic picture painted by the experts is bleak. They say poverty will stay above the pre-recession level of 12.5 percent for many more years and peak poverty levels — 15 percent to 16 percent — will last at least until 2014, driven by expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate above six percent, and slow wage growth.

"This is not a minor blip," Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy and director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, told the Tribune. "It will have huge defining economic and psychological impact on (young adults) for years to come."

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