When the world's top economic leaders gathered last month in Davos, Switzerland, the crisis they were most worried about wasn't Greek debt, the price of oil or global trade imbalances. It was something they call a "social and economic time bomb": youth unemployment.
And if you think it's a problem that only countries like Egypt or Great Britain have to confront, you haven't seen the numbers in the U.S. lately.
The percentage of young people who have jobs in this country is near the lowest it's been since 1950. And of the young people who are working full time? They've experienced a greater drop in income over the last four years than any other group.
Kerri Miller spoke with social entrepreneur and financial literacy advocate John Hope Bryant about youth unemployment and why he believes financial dignity is the new civil rights issue.
"There's little doubt that there is a financial literacy crisis in America, with an entire economy brought to its knees by a massive case of consumer 'payment-itus,' or the most powerful economic driver (US consumers), powering the most powerful economy in the world today (still the US economy), by purchasing a home and God knows what else by asking 'what's the payment?'" Bryant wrote for the Huffington Post. "We are not talking about poor people here either -- we are talking about middle class America. Poor folks do not have $20 trillion in asset value to lose. An entire generation, who effectively aided and abetted their own economic crime, against themselves."
Video: John Hope Bryant at Global Dignity Day 2011
If you are college age or in your mid-twenties, what obstacles to employment have you run into?
Is this making you less hopeful about your future?
Kerris' guest is John Hope Bryant.
John Hope Bryant.
I am 26, have a Master's Degree, and I remained unemloyed for over a year after graduation and only managed to find a temp job. The major corporation I now work at has told me that the position I am filling was previously held by full employees and that from now on they will not be hiring any more full employees and relying on temps only in the future. Thus positions offering benefits and a good salary are being replaced by temp workers. Where does this trend lead?
I'm 23, work full time making $10 an hour, and am just happy to have a job. I'm frustrated because I would like to earn more money so that I can finally move out of my mother's house. However, I've been pegged to help my brothers since I was 18 and haven't had a chance to save for myself. I've made dumb decisions, but I'm trying to get somewhere. The problem is that I don't have experience and I'm only going to have an Associates degree.
When I was a teenager, I had jobs starting at the age of 12, newspaper carrier, 13 a caddie at a local country club, then popcorn snack server at 15 at Target. Followed by stockroom help and hardware helper from 17 through 20 to help support my college expenses. Where are those jobs for young people today?
I applaud financial dignity! I would like to encourage everyone to also be realistic. Who promised a wonderful full time job right out of college? I worked three jobs out of college. Where has the work ethic gone? What I see and am struggling to help young people realize is communication and professionalism matters. The ability to have face to face conversation has been lost. I teach at a college, my students don't understand why they can't show up whenever they want. They don't understand why they can't speak to an instructor or boss using slang language. This is why young people can't get jobs. Would you hire someone who can't answer a phone is a professional manner or show up on time? When you can hire someone older who has that professionalism wouldn't you?
@KerriMPR most affected young seem to be very impressed with RPaul that is exactly supporting the failed economic model: not a solution
The elephant in the room is company is outsourcing. It started with lower paying jobs but now is stealing middle class and upper middle class professional jobs. Unfortunately, no political leaders are talking about stopping this outrage that is destroying our economy. Perhaps, careers at your local big-box chain store is what young people now should aspire to. After all, one has to be practical.
There is hope! The Opportunity Corp branch of Americorps is offering FREE Financial Literacy Classes in a county near you. I'm a Financial Literacy Coach serving at Lakes and Pines CAC preparing for a class tonight in Chisago County. Knowledge is the key!!
When I was in grade & high school I worked in my dads construction business and when I started college I already knew accounting, bidding, materials management and all parts of construction
Gallup poll about young people and entrepreneurs.
Speaking about starting small businesses, our economy is geared now to discourage this. When many of our services are linked to our jobs: health insurance, retirement etc, starting a new business requires one to forgo those things.
Not only are new grads salaries less but they aren't getting pensions to help them out in retirement like the older generations had.
So what is the point of college? If it is about experience why do employers put so much on a degree which seems to not provide that much to get a job. Should we get rid of the push for young people in college?
I am 27, the key for me was to get involved in volunteering for nonprofits. I ended up on the board of directors for a small nonprofit and after 3 years served as president when I was 23. There are often options for hardworking young folk to build a resume if you are creative and think outside the box.
I've been very fortunate that at 30 is still being supported primarily by my parents as I get my 2nd degree. Art history doesn't offer much in terms of jobs so now I'm working towards getting a LADP (licensed alcohol and drug professional) so that at the end of the day I have a piece of paper that says EXACTLY what I am qualified to do.
I am passionate about encouraging my grandkids to take advantage of opportunities—in grade school shoveling that neighbor’s sidewalk can lead to being hired to help with yard work in Jr. high, and a reference from these folks to a summer job at the hardware store in high school. It’s a domino effect that begins with believing that the initiative belongs to you and only you.
I am a manager at a location that hires on an entry level and we hire plenty of teenagers. The problem is we give them the forms to go get their drug test done because that's what our company requires to work here and then we never hear from them again.
Why doesn't the speaker talk about making outsourcing to China, India and Africa illegal? Outsourcing has no moral basis and this is what the conversation should be about. Instead he generalizes and says young people are too "entitled". Hogwash!
I am attorney with $120,000 of student debt. I just graduated last spring and was admitted to the Bar in November. Since then I have held 3 jobs. I do document review at a major law firm. I free lance with a small law firm. and I de-ice airplanes at MSP. I have realized that if no one will get me shot I have to do it myself. I have only become more and more energized to start my own practice and have started to take steps in that direction.
I disagree with this guy's worldview. Everyone does have the right to useful work whether they went to college or not. However ,college itself is not a guarantee of anything, especially if they fail to teach . My oldest graduated at the top of his class and got significant scholarships, yet he was unable to finish college because they were not able teach him his chosen program. Possibly he did not get good advice about choosing a better program either, and now he can't get more loans or a job.
I completely disagree with your past guest about the entitlement society. I am a recent college graduate and we do not feel entitled to a job but we do feel entitled to a fair shot. At the moment the only way to get a job is through some sort of connection and I think that is the bigger issue. Companies today are not hiring anywhere near as much as before and it is incredibly hard to even get an interview without somehow having your resume brought to the hiring managers attention. The bigger issue, and something your guest seemed to ignore, is the loss of worker's rights and the vilification of unions. We are a society that has turned our focus completely to supporting businesses and have left workers in the wake. Specifically, think about profit sharing; can anyone explain why profit sharing is a thing of the past at major corporations?