Friday, June 27, 2008

Out of Sight

Published: June 10, 2008

When the dismal unemployment numbers were released on Friday (at the same time that oil prices were surging to record highs), I thought about the young people at the bottom of the employment ladder.

Below the bottom, actually.

A shudder went through the markets when the Labor Department reported that the official jobless rate had jumped one-half a percentage point in May to 5.5 percent — the sharpest spike in 22 years.

The young people I’m talking about wouldn’t have noticed. These are the teenagers and young adults — roughly 16 to 24 years old — who are not in school and basically have no hope of finding work. The bureaucrats compiling the official unemployment rate don’t even bother counting these young people. They are no one’s constituency. They might as well not exist.

Except that they do exist. There are four million or more of these so-called disconnected youths across the country. They hang out on street corners in cities large and small — and increasingly in suburban and rural areas.

If you ask how they survive from day to day, the most likely response is: “I hustle,” which could mean anything from giving haircuts in a basement to washing a neighbor’s car to running the occasional errand.

Or it could mean petty thievery or drug dealing or prostitution or worse.

This is the flip side of the American dream. The United States economy, which has trouble producing enough jobs to keep the middle class intact, has left these youngsters all-but-completely behind.

Read more HERE

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