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For American youth, Labor Day report paints an even worse jobs picture

The unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds is twice that of the population overall, says a Labor Day weekend report. The portion of the group that is in the jobs market is at a historic low.

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Many of these are students who were unable to earn the money they needed for school, points out Mr. Wolff. “This economy and particularly its impact on the kinds of jobs this age group would take are constricting and pushing down the job and career prospects for an entire generation,” he adds.

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Jonathan Wright, a senior at Villanova University, says he was willing to work for free if it would give him valuable experience for his career choice. But even that market was out of reach.

“I applied for about 30 different internships for this past summer, and I received only one call-back for an interview” and “did not get past the interviewing process,” he writes in an email. He adds that his lack of experience from having not had an internship, “could seriously hurt me when I start looking for a real job in the coming months.”

The inability to enter the work force at an early point in a working life can have long-term consequences, says Cheryl Carleton, who teaches economics at Villanova University School of Business.

“With jobs this summer few and far between, this means that some students will not be returning to school” for lack of money “and for others it will mean they need to take out increasing amounts of loans ... which means they will have less money to spend in the future as they have to pay back those loans,” she says via email.

Alternatively, she adds, the parents will have to come up with increasing amounts to pay for schooling, which puts more hardship on families. This in turn leaves less money for their own retirement, or spending on a daily basis, she notes, adding that these students will have less experience all around, from less experience in knowing what they might like to pursue to less to put on a resume.

“If these are students who have just graduated, then not having a job means a permanent reduction in lifetime earnings, as studies have shown,” Professor Carleton adds. The longer they are out of work, the less likely they are to get hired, she points out.

“Firms are reluctant to hire those who have not been hired for a long time.... They don't know why they weren't hired and don't want to take a chance. Some may decide to remain in or go back to school if they can't find a job. Others may go the route of temporary agencies, or just take jobs beneath their skill level. This will also affect their long-term employment prospects.”

Staff writer Daniel B. Wood contributed to this report.

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