While the latest job numbers suggest a slight improvement in the U.S. economy, jobless Millennials – especially recent college graduates – continue to struggle.

U.S. employers added 217,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. With this news came renewed uncertainty for recent college graduates, many of whom are new entrants into the U.S. workforce.

Notably, the unemployment rate for those ages 16 to 34 increased from 9 percent to 9.2 percent in May, and from 10.6 percent to 11.1 percent for 20- to 24-year-olds. Most Wall Street strategists and analysts say the job market is still a long way from where it should be.

“Are we really creating enough jobs to bring people back into the work force? We’re not and we need to create more,” Byron Wien, a Wall Street strategist, told The New York Times.

For Millennials and recent grads, the situation remains bleak.

Last August, the Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that 36 percent of 18- to 31-year-olds were living in their parents’ home – the highest share in at least four decades.

Not only will the slew of grads this month face a tough job market, but many Millennials still languish in this economic recession.

Take Alexis Gallagher, a 2013 graduate of Towson University who still cannot find a job in her field and lives with her parents.

Gallagher graduated with a B.S. in political science and mass communication and a concentration in journalism, was president and editor in chief of the Pre-Law Journal, and president of the Pre-Law Society at Towson. In addition to maintaining a 3.5 GPA, she interned three days per week on Capitol Hill, for which she had to travel from Baltimore, and also held a few part-time jobs throughout her college years.

Instead of heading straight to law school upon graduating, Gallagher decided to jump into the job market first.

“Ideally I am interested in economic policy, so I would want to work in an economic think tank,” she said in an interview with The College Fix. “I started looking for jobs in public affairs and corporate communications, but have broadened my search to administrative roles and marketing jobs.”

But her current job situation hasn’t been what she expected. Currently living at home in Atlantic County, New Jersey, she has been working at The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa as a cocktail server.

“I make really good money,” she said. “But it is not at all what I want to do – especially with a college degree.”

In the meantime, she has been saving her money since she moved back home with her parents. She took the LSAT on Monday, and depending on her score, is considering applying to law schools in the fall.

In light of the most recent unemployment numbers and a grim outlook for recent college graduates, the Republican National Committee is saying enough is enough.

“Millennials propelled Obama into the White House, but all we’ve seen are more regulations and fewer jobs,” said Raffi Williams, an RNC spokesman. “Nearly 6 in 10 Americans now believe the American Dream is out of reach, but Republicans know we can do better—for my generation and for all Americans.”

Gallagher echoed these sentiments.

She blames “government regulation and tax policies” as one of the main reasons recent graduates like herself cannot find good jobs.

“Minimum wage laws, overtime pay mandates, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and healthcare regulations all make it more expensive to employ labor, which then impacts the number of employees a firm will hire,” she said.

Another significant reason is uncertainty, she said.

“Many firms do not know what the economy will look like in a few months, so they are more reluctant to hire more workers,” she said.

She also put blame on President Obama’s signature legislative achievement in office, the Affordable Care Act, calling it an “added expense” for many businesses.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted on Sunday that her party will talk extensively about student debt this upcoming week, citing President Obama’s weekly address titled “Supporting America’s Students.”

President Obama said in his address that “we have to do more to lift that burden” of student loan debt, vowing to do whatever he can without Congress to help young people pay off their student debt more easily.

But Raffi Williams of the RNC accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue.

“Due to the Obama economy Millennials are stuck at home with their parents unable to find work,” he said in a statement. “Instead of putting forth serious legislation like the dozens of House passed pro-growth bills that sit on Harry Reid’s desk, Obama and the Democrats continue to play politics with the future of young Americans everywhere.”

Like most Millennials, Alexis Gallagher said she remains hopeful that the economy will improve.

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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While young voters overwhelmingly supported president Obama’s reelection in 2012. Voters age 18 to 29 supported Obama over challenger Mitt Romney 60% to 36%.

Obama promised voters he would create millions of new jobs–while simultaneously slashing the federal budget deficit.

Now a little more than a year later, Obama’s spending sprees have kept the deficit at $680 billion–with a “B”. That’s down from the $1.1 trillion with a “T” from last year, but still more than 50% higher than the $455 billion deficit of 2008–the year Obama was first elected.

Even more worrying is the fall of the U.S. labor participation rate to a new 35-year low of 62.8%. That means 37% of Americans aren’t working or even seeking work–a fact that explains why the official unemployment rate has continued to fall despite the fact that monthly job creation number have continued to fall short of expectations.

In keeping with this national trend of indebtedness and joblessness, millions of grad students and recent grad students find themselves today in dismal economic circumstances. Very few of them, it seems, can find meaningful work in their fields of study.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that 5% of households on food stamps are headed by college graduates.

Meanwhile, a recent news report out of the University of North Carolina, bemoans the plight of the school’s grad students–many of whom now rely on government welfare assistance in order to live. Increasingly, students are applying for food stamps even while they are still enrolled in degree programs.

One UNC PhD student, Releta Summers, said she wound up homeless last semester–sleeping in her car and living off food stamps: “From the outside looking in, most people wouldn’t believe me if I told them I receive benefits,” Summers said. “I still get up every day, and I comb my hair and put on real clothes and go into my office.”

Yet nowhere does the UNC report call into question the ethics of students who are able-bodied adults, and who could work to support themselves, but choose not to. Nowhere does it question whether they ought to be allowed on food stamps while choosing not to work a job the offers a living wage.

I grew up poor. I know what it’s about. But the above example is not true poverty–not really. Rather, it’s a lifestyle choice.

If one cannot afford to attend grad school and support himself/herself, is it really ethical to go on the government dole? Earning a PhD is not a human right, after all. It is a luxury.

Stories like the one above show that there is no longer any real stigma involved in going on government assistance–even among highly-educated, able-bodied people. Instead of looking at public assistance as a last resort, there are many who see it as an entitlement. It would never cross their minds to go get a night job flipping burgers at McDonald’s in order to stay off welfare. That’s too hard, you see. And we millennial, we don’t like to struggle do we?

I’ve heard my grandparents tell of folks who went through the Great Depression and were half starving–yet wouldn’t consider going on government assistance. It was considered shameful, certainly, for an able-bodied adult to do so when he had opportunities to support himself.

Fast forward a few decades, and our culture has grown much more used to the idea of relying on the government for support. Social security, medicare–these have become things we take for granted–but they exist for the benefit of the elderly and infirm. Those who cannot fend for themselves.

When strong, intelligent, able-bodied young adults are turning to welfare–that means something else entirely.

It means we have become comfortable with viewing the government as our provider.

Liberal, educated young people by the millions now look to Uncle Sam for help with their health care coverage, they want the government to pay for their birth control pills, they want the government to pay their tuition, and give them food stamps so they don’t have to work too hrd while in a PhD program that is also housed withing a university heavily subsidized by the government.

This is a generation comfortable with dependency. More worryingly though, this is a generation that lacks any real appreciation for value of independence. As a result, it’s a generation that is easier to control. All you’ve got to do is wave the carrot of government largess and you get their votes. Obama proved that.

On the other hand, I do observe a resurgence of libertarianism among some young people. These are the Ron Paul voters of the world. But I fear the majority of young people today are still true believers in the benevolent Uncle Sam.

Energy, industriousness, the old “protestant work ethic” cited by Weber more than a century ago–these aren’t the leading characteristics that come to mind when you think of PhD students on food stamps.

These are Obama’s kids. Obama’s vision of greater government control over, say, the nation’s healthcare system, is perfectly in keeping with the values of those who are willing to trade freedom for security.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden


The News & Observer reports on a recent Duke University survey, which indicates that Obamacare will cost some Americans their jobs:

Top corporate executives say the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to buy health insurance, will result in lower hiring at their companies.

Some executives say they will hire fewer employees; others say they will probably tilt toward hiring part-timers over full-timers. About 10 percent say the law, commonly called Obamacare, will cause layoffs at their companies.

Read more.


A troubling new report reveals that the Obama economy has produced millions of young Americans who are jobless and idle.

Phillip Elliot writes for the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday.

That’s almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report.

Other studies have shown that idle young adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college.

Full story here.

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Colleges are among the many businesses that are cutting employee hours in order to avoid the health insurance mandate associated with Obamacare.

Employers are limiting work weeks to 29 hours because they say they can’t afford to pay the costly insurance premiums. Once an employee reaches 30 hours, the employer must buy health insurance for that employee under the new law.

St. Petersburg College in Florida has reduced the hours of 250 part-time professors because it can’t afford to keep them on the payroll if it is forced to buy health insurance for those employees.

“It has been the hardest decision that I’ve had to make,” said college president Bill Law.

Part-time math professor Tracy Sullivan lost half her income, according to NBC News. She’s just one of the millions of American workers whose livelihoods have been put at risk because of president Obama’s health insurance mandate.

“I never thought it would impact me directly,” Sullivan said.

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Democrats have echoed the same rhetoric on health care for the last five years: Republicans want to prevent Americans from affordable health insurance. After all, Democrats point out, they have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 40 times.

Last Friday was no different, as President Obama at a White House press conference slammed the GOP for their continued effort to repeal his signature health care legislation: “The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care.”

“The notion is simply that those 30 million people, or the 150 million who are benefiting from other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it,” he continued. “That’s their assertion. Not backed by fact. Not backed by any evidence. It’s just become an ideological fixation.”

Whether those 30 million people will actually benefit from Obamacare remains to be seen. Many of those uninsured are young people who will be forced to pay high premiums for coverage they don’t need, as the law mandates minimum levels of coverage and doesn’t offer cheap plans meant for those in their 20s and 30s (ones with low monthly payments and high deductibles for emergencies).

The Left’s argument also falls short when considering the havoc the law will wreak on the nation’s economy, its small businesses, people struggling to find full-time jobs, and so on.

In effect, let’s turn Obama’s statement around: “The one unifying principle in the Democratic Party at the moment is making sure that millions of small businesses, people with part-time jobs, and young people suffer economically.”

Here are the stats behind that statement:

Along with a 7.4 percent unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate nearing its lowest point since the 1980s at 63.4 percent, we have an exceptionally high underemployment rate of 14 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The underemployment rate measures the level of utilization of the labor force, factoring in individuals who are forced to work part-time and those who have the education and skills beyond the qualifications necessary for their job.

As of July of this year, the bureau found that 8.2 million people are involuntarily working part time. They want full time jobs, but there’s none to be had. This number is exceptionally high, despite a slight trajectory downward since the passage of Obamacare. Do not expect this trend to continue as 2015 nears, because as that year rolls around, so does the law’s employer mandate.

If an employer with 50 or more full-time employees does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health-tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2,000 for all full-time employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee jumps to $3,000.

Since the penalty does not apply if part-time employees are not offered coverage, the law is essentially an invitation for small businesses to hire people part-time instead of full time. 

Americans looking for work will struggle to find a job where they can work 40 hours a week. Others already working full-time may either be laid off or have their hours cut so the employers can fall below the 50-person minimum to avoid paying the penalty.

As for those businesses that are not big enough to encounter the employer mandate, owners and workers can still be hit with the individual mandate, which forces people to buy expensive state-level insurance.

The economy is in a sluggish state as it is. We can point the finger at both parties for this, but the reality is this year has seen the highest levels of poverty since the 1960s, with 50 million – or one in six Americans – living below the income line that defines poverty.

As long as the mandate remains intact, we will see a spike of underemployment, and possibly even unemployment as employers try to avoid the penalty.

Congressional Republicans are not a group of sadists. Their problem isn’t with insuring the uninsured, but rather with the method health care is being implemented. The Affordable Care Act was passed completely on party lines.  The constituents spoke at the polls in 2010, and the Senate might be wise to finally listen.

Fix contributor Michael Cipriano is a student at American University.

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