Writing at Matthew Yglesias' place, Ryan McNeely flags this CNN interview with Yoni Gruskin, founder and executive director of "Concerned Youth of America" (CYA). As McNeely writes, CYA bills itself as a "nonpartisan group dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility" that "purports to represent young people concerned with the budget deficit." Here's Gruskin in his own words:
I find it completely bizarre to fixate on the vagaries of future budgeting when young people have the most to lose from high unemployment and a prolonged recession. Not only does unemployment add to the pressure of paying back student loans -- which average about $22,700 per student -- but the consequences of post-graduate unemployment extend for a lifetime; according to a Center for American Progress report on youth unemployment "lifetime earnings are diminished with each year of missed work equating to 2 percent to 3 percent less earnings each year thereafter." What's more, even if you aren't unemployed, you'll face diminished earnings by simple virtue of graduating during a recession. According to Lisa Kahn of the Yale School of Management, a one-point increase in the unemployment rate corresponds with a 6 percent to 7 percent loss in initial wages. And while this effect declines over time, it can remain statistically significant for up to 15 years.
Put another way, if you graduated from college this year or last, you'll be nearly 40 before your earnings recover from the effect of merely graduating during a recession. And the picture is even worse if you didn't go to college or dropped out of high school; for high school dropouts ages 15 to 24, the unemployment rate for the year ending in September 2009 was 26.6 percent. For those with a high school diploma, it was 14.7 percent. Simply put, it's very hard to find work if you only have a high school diploma, and nearly impossible if you don't have one at all.
You won't find any of this on Concerned Youth of America's website, and in his interview, Gruskin all but dismisses the "short term" problem of unemployment. But that's not very shocking; as Ryan notes, the CYA was founded at the elite Phillips Academy, and its leadership "attends such diverse universities as U-Penn, Yale, Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins." With that kind of privilege, this kind of media exposure, and an issue set tailor-made for the Beltway crowd, these students will likely never hurt for employment. For them, it makes perfect sense to obsess over the deficit; after all, they can afford to studiously ignore the recession, even as it produces a lost generation of under-skilled, under-employed adults.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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