April is the cruelest month for the Obama administration’s hoped for economic recovery; yet again this year signs of economic recovery faded in the spring after a winter of growth. But for one group, there has been little hope and no change: the jobs picture for young adults just keeps looking bleak.
Data from Tuesday’s Gallup report suggests that despite supposed improvements to the country’s economic health, youth unemployment was essentially flat in 2011. It currently stands at 13.6 percent, up from 12.1 percent in November of last year, standing exactly as high as it was one year ago. 32 percent of adults age 18 to 29 were underemployed in April, and the number has been steadily rising since last July.
It is an interesting political paradox: the generation that supports the Democrats most at the polls tends to benefit less from liberal Democratic policies than older, more skeptical voters. The pattern is to put a flashy, attention-getting proposal that appeals to young adults out front while making policy choices that in effect transfer money from the young to the old on a large scale. Thus Obamacare allows young adults to stay on their parents’ policies a few years longer — but corrals young adults into compulsory insurance programs at costs that subsidize the premiums of older workers. The administration offers to cut the rate of student loan interest while supporting an academic status quo that inflates student costs and forces more students to take out larger loans.
In 2008, young adults and students turned out in droves to elect Barack Obama president. Recent reports suggest that while Obama still leads among the young, enthusiasm has faded considerably. It isn’t hard to guess why.