Woah: Greece's youth unemployment rises above 60 percent

Greece has a lag of several months going with their unemployment reporting, and the recently revealed statistics from February produced a very unwelcome whopper: The youth unemployment rate just shattered a new record with about two-thirds of the country’s young people without a job. Via Reuters:

Greece’s jobless rate has almost tripled since the country’s debt crisis emerged in 2009 and was more than twice the euro zone’s average unemployment reading of 12.1 percent in March.

While the overall unemployment rate rose to 27 percent, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 jumped to 64.2 percent in February from 59.3 percent in January. Youth unemployment was 54.1 percent in March 2012.

Greece has more economic and fiscal problems than you can shake a stick at, and the fact that young people can’t get started building their careers means that it’s going to be all the harder to get the country back on solid footing in the long term. Even in Germany, the eurozone’s largest and arguably least flailing economy right now, the youth unemployment rate is around eight percent, but that’s about as good as it gets — more than half of Spain’s young people are jobless, and the youth unemployment rate is above 40 percent in both Italy and Portugal.

Lurking under the rise of youth unemployment among the richest countries is an even scarier trend — the rise of long-term youth unemployment. Long-term unemployment isn’t just a difference in length; it’s a difference in kind, because the more time you spend out of a company, the less likely you are to be hired back into one. In many European countries, particularly Spain, the increase in unemployment has come almost exclusively from people being out of work longer than two-years. In advanced economies, “longterm unemployment has arrived as an unexpected tax on the current generation of youth,” ILO writes. About half of Europe’s unemployed youth have been out of work for more than six months, according to 2011 data.

And, of course, this isn’t merely a European crisis. The United States’ youth unemployment rate is currently above 16 percent, with many more underemployed — it’s a bleak picture, and try as he might, the economy might now have been in “healing” mode just a little too long to keep the youth convinced:

Europe, awash in college diplomas, has had high youth unemployment for decades. It’s an established school of study for economists there. And they know the causes: a decline in economic growth made worse by regulatory thickets (with or without societal benefits), and entitlement obligations and tax regimes that drove the entrepreneurial instinct out of Europe. What remained were jobs in government bureaucracies.

The U.S. under Barack Obama is at the edge of the dark jobs forest Europe disappeared into in the 1970s, with our annual growth during his term down around 2% instead of over its normal 3%. Our kids are starting to look and sound like Europe’s smart kids—despondent and resigned.

On Sunday, Barack Obama stood before the graduates of Ohio State and exhorted them to pour their energies and new knowledge into . . . politics. His speech referred once to salaried work: The job market, he said, is “steadily healing.” An adverb fronting a gerund; talk doesn’t get any weaker than that.

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