Herbert on Jobless Youth

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert on the 4 million “disconnected youth” in America: “These are the teenagers and young adults — roughly 16 to 24 years old — who are not in school and basically have no hope of finding work. The bureaucrats compiling the official unemployment rate don’t even bother counting these young people. They are no one’s constituency. They might as well not exist.”

It’s not as if these kids don’t want to work. Many of them search and search until they finally become discouraged. The summer job market, which has long been an important first step in preparing teenagers for the world of work, is shaping up this year as the weakest in more than half a century, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

Now, with the overall economy deteriorating, the situation for poorly educated young people will only grow worse. As Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies, told The Times recently:

“When you get into a recession, kids always get hit the hardest. Kids always go to the back of the hiring queue. Now, they find themselves with a lot of other people in line ahead of them.”

As the ranks of these youngsters grow, so does their potential to become a destabilizing factor in the society.

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