(Bloomberg View) — Young people bounce back from adversity faster than their elders, right? Not when it comes to American jobs. Six years after the U.S. economy began expanding from the worst recession since the Great Depression, people ages 25 to 34 are having a harder time finding jobs than other workers.
This is the new normal. Men and women at the peak of their physical and mental development are increasingly frustrated in the job market precisely at the point when they are poised to launch careers and start families. Since the new century’s first recession in 2001, the unemployment rate for these young Americans has stayed higher than the rate of overall unemployment, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
What’s most striking is that the gap is wider now than it was in 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis. That’s an indication that the economic recovery hasn’t helped younger workers as much as it did after 20th-century slumps, Bloomberg data show.
Take the 1982 recession. At first, it hit 25- to 34-year- old workers hard. Unemployment for that group surged 2.37 percentage points to 9.66 percent in December 1983. The overall rate rose less — 1.98 percentage points — and to a lower level of 9.6 percent.
Then things turned around for the 25- to 34-year-olds. By December 1984, the year President Ronald Reagan was re-elected, unemployment among those younger workers had fallen to 7.24 percent, below the overall unemployment rate of 7.51.
The same thing happened after the 1992 recession. Younger workers were hit hardest in the two years after December 1990 — and then caught up to everyone else a year later. The younger group’s unemployment rate would remain lower for the rest of the decade.