I began working as a career coach and resume writer in 2000. In that year, the nonemployment rate* for young Americans (age 25-34) was 18.5%. In the most recent measure, which marks the year 2011, that rate has moved up to 26.6%, which puts the U.S. ahead of France, Japan, Britain, and Germany, all of which had higher rates in 2000.
According to an article in Common Dreams, the news gets worse when we look behind the numbers. The age group 25-35 is the only group to have a lower average wage in 2013 than it had in 2000. Part of the reason for this change could be that 40% of new college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a degree. As I’ve written in previous posts,7 of 10 jobs created in the past few years have been low wage jobs that pay $30,000 or less. What can young people do when low wage jobs are the only option?
We need to do more than just talk about a monthly employment statistic (30+ months of meaningless job growth) and the unemployment rate. Yes, the economy has generated private sector jobs. However, many are part-time, low paid, or benefit free. We need to talk about what jobs pay. We need good jobs.
* This rate included unemployment and those who have given up looking.
Huffington Post cites a study that says hiring for young Americans (age 18-24) is at a 60 year low. The numbers are frightening, but being afraid helps no one get a job. It only leads to self-pity and paralysis.
What should young adults do in this difficult job market? The first step is to broaden their career goals: Get a Plan B. For example, someone who wants to work in marketing might also look at jobs in sales as a bridge to their eventual career goal. A new graduate who wants to be a manager might also consider a position in supply chain or accounting, which will provide skills that are valuable to most managers.
The most important thing to do is look past the depressing statistics. Assess your skills, experience, and education. What do you have that an employer needs? Answer that question well, and your job search will improve.