Editorial: Unemployment still tough for grads, but Obama not to blame
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 22:09
Throughout last week’s Republican convention, numerous references were made to the sorry state of the economy. But something relatively new also occurred. There were specific references made to the low job prospects for people around college age or in their young-to-mid-20s.
This was particularly pointed during vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech, in which he proclaimed: “Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all. So here’s the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years? ... College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”
Unfortunately, it remains true that, according to many economic indicators, people our age have been hit harder than the general population. But is this solely an indicator of a failed Democrat president, as the Republicans would have you believe? Hardly.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official employment-to-population ratio was only 48.8 percent for those aged 16-24 in July, compared to 58.4 percent for the country as a whole. Here is the catch: the ratio for those aged 16-24 has always been higher than for the country as a whole. This has remained true under Democratic presidents and under Republican presidents, under Democratic Congresses and under Republican Congresses.
Economists generally believe the primary reason for this trend is the consistent correlation between employment levels and education. With lower amounts of education virtually always matching up with lower employment levels (and vice versa), young people with less education will naturally experience fewer employment opportunities. Obama has some level of power to change the state of the economy, but he has zero power to alter basic economic principles.
This is why it remains so important for people our age to not buy into campaign rhetoric without thinking critically. Many Democrats have gradually come to believe that Obama has not been the optimal steward for the economy over the past few years. Yet the party out of presidential power is blaming the high youth unemployment wholly on the party in power, as should probably be expected. Polling analysts are predicting that the 18-24 vote, generally considered a staunch supporter of the Democrats, may break close to 50-50 between the parties this time around.
Whether you vote for Obama, Romney, somebody else or nobody at all, is up to you. Many college-aged students will refuse to vote for Obama because “college graduates can’t get jobs these days.” But just remember that, compared to the population at large, college graduates have had a comparably harder time landing jobs under every president…including the last Republican president, George W. Bush, who the Republicans conspicuously left out of last week’s convention.