High unemployment in today’s economy is an issue that touches all ages. In fact, young adults and older adults are facing many of the same challenges in today’s marketplace, reinforcing the age-old saying, that we really are “in this together.”
Young adults are struggling to enter the workforce, while older adults are struggling to re-enter the workforce, some long after they planned to be working at all. Both generations are having great difficulties finding employment. In fact, unemployment among older adults practically doubled from the beginning of the recession in 2007 to 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Young adults faced similar circumstances; in 2010, young adults ages 16-29 experienced the lowest employment rate since the end of World War II.[i][ii] Even the summer job market for teens seemed to evaporate.[iii]
How has this affected teens, young adults, and older adults? Believe it or not – the generations are more alike than they are different in this area as well. Both groups faced increasingly long periods of unemployment or underemployment. For instance, recent studies show that more than half of older adults ages 50+ were unemployed for more than six months.[iv] Similarly, these long periods of unemployment or underemployment left many young people[v] and older adults feeling very discouraged and in need of motivation to continue their job search.
The needs of both groups are strikingly similar as well. To advance in their careers, teens and young adults need opportunities to gain the work experience they lack, while older adults may need opportunities for additional training to hone the skills they have developed.
Teens, young adults, and older adults are all striving to become or remain financially self-sufficient and independent, to take care of themselves and their loved ones. These are values that cross all generations.
In the upcoming weeks, as the Senate considers introducing pieces of the American Jobs Act, we urge you to contact your Members of Congress, and to remind them that unemployment touches every age group, and that job creation is vital for the prosperity of all generations.
This article is the second installment in Generations United’s Blog Series on the Economy
For more on how families are faring in this tough environment, register to attend Family Matters: Multigenerational Families in a Volatile Economy on December 6, 2011.
[i] The Deterioration in the Labor Market Fortunes of America’s Young Adults During the Lost Decade of 2000-2010.
[ii] Unemployment Among Older Adults Stuck Near Record Highs. Ken Schwartz. NCOA Responds with Employment Programs, Benefits Counseling for Economically Stressed Seniors
[iii] The Continued Collapse of the Nation’s Teen Summery Job Market: Who Worked in the Summer of 2011?
[iv] Urban Institute. Retirement Security Data Brief. Number 2, February 2011. How Did 50+ Workers Fare in 2010? http://www.retirementpolicy.org
[v] The Deterioration in the Labor Market Fortunes of America’s Young Adults During the Lost Decade of 2000-2010.