In many countries, youth employment is understood as a pressing domestic issue. But the proper lens is global: From Europe to North America to the Middle East, unemployment among young people has swelled into a veritable epidemic, one that threatens economic growth and social stability in dozens of countries for decades to come. Worldwide, some 75 million workers under age 25 were jobless last year, according to the International Labour Office, an increase of more than 4 million compared to 2007.
The crisis is altering family dynamics, as parents find themselves caring for grown children and as unemployed young people defer starting their own families. It is reinforcing austerity, as governments struggle to finance unemployment benefits and large numbers of would-be young consumers find themselves hunkering down in joblessness. Above all, it is assailing the psyches of young people who have been told that education is the pathway to a more prosperous life only to find that their degrees are no antidote to a bleak job market.
....The profound shortage of working opportunities for young people around the globe is largely the result of the synchronized financial crisis* that emerged in the United States and then spread to Europe, generating economic strains on virtually every shore.
In Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the presence of large number of young people unable to find jobs that match their training adds fuel to long-standing ethnic and religious conflicts while sowing political discord. The youth unemployment rate hit 39 percent in Egypt last year, as the country grappled with the fallout from the Arab Spring.
In France, nearly one in four would-be workers under 25 is now officially unemployed, according to the latest government figures. In Great Britain, some 960,000 people in the same age group are unemployed, or about one of every five. Overall, some 26 million Europeans aged 16 to 24 are today searching for a job, according to recent government estimates.
*[It is not just the financial crisis, but the ill-designed response to it that has left a plague of unemployment. jz]
National Jobs for All Coalition
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