Millenials still recovering from recession

A Senate report states that college-aged adults remain less employed nationwide.

Benjamin Farniok

While most Americans are recovering from the economic recession, millennials are lagging.

A new U.S. Senate report shows the millennial generation, people between the ages of 14 to 34, has recovered slower from the recession compared to other age groups nationwide.

According to the report, released by the Joint Economic Committee last month and authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the youngest group of millennials –– ages 18 to 24 –– are the least likely to find jobs and have the highest unemployment rate, averaging 12.7 percent over the last year.

Even in Minnesota, where employment is relatively high, some millennials still experience unemployment rates 2.1 percent higher than 35- to 54-year-olds.

Chelsey Larson, a former University of Minnesota student, said she struggled to find permanent employment after graduating.

When she completed an internship with the Minnesota Wild, Larson said she hoped to stay with the company. But her lack of experience proved to be an obstacle for obtaining a full-time position.

Instead, Larson said she took up a few part-time jobs to pay the bills while she was looking for full-time work.

The report offers solutions to lessen the recession’s burden on millennials, including expanding job-training programs and increasing the minimum wage.

Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, who serves on the higher education committee, said he doesn’t think expanding minimum wage will necessarily help millennials.

The rate change could have sweeping effects beyond those just felt by millennials, he said. It would affect business owners and potential employers.

“We’re in a new economy now,” Pelowski said. “Everything we thought we knew, we’re going to have to put aside and re-evaluate and probably do things
differently.”

Student loan debt is one of the key issues the  report highlights.

Debt could force a recent graduate to accept any position with reasonable pay, even if it lands outside his or her intended career path, according to the report.

Like Larson, who finally found full-time employment after months of searching for full-time employment.

“It’s pretty much entry level,” she said. “I am happy with it, but I [will] probably do this for a year or two years, then look for something higher up.”

Large amounts of student debt could also impede the job search for students after college.

Former University student Mariah Swanson said the amount of debt she accumulated limited her employment choices after graduation.

“I had to keep searching until I found a position that could support loans,” she said.

To lessen the burden of student loans in Minnesota, some lawmakers are hoping to reduce the inflation of tuition.

“One thing we will do, hopefully, is keep tuition flat so that students in college now will have less debt than they would have otherwise,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Fall, who chairs the higher education committee.

Nornes also said more companies should provide better training programs for millennials entering the work force in their desired field.