Young, Educated and Jobless in America?
|Written by John Schmitt|
|Monday, 03 December 2012 15:15|
Today's New York Times has a piece by Steven Erlanger on the "Young, Educated and Jobless in France" that gets most of the facts right, but still might leave its readers with the wrong idea about the real labor-market challenges facing Europe and the United States.
The initial focus is on young people (15-29 year olds) who are unemployed. But, many young people are still in school, which can make interpreting official unemployment rates tricky. (For a discussion of why this is the case, see this article that David Howell and I wrote for The American Prospect back in 2006.)
"[In addition to the unemployed] There is another category: those who are 'not in employment, education or training,' or NEETs, as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calls them."
The idea is that, from a societal point of view, we might be just as happy — even happier — if young people are in postsecondary training, college, or graduate school rather than in work.
The NEET tells us in one number just how many young people are disconnected from both work and school (including training programs). As the NYT notes:
"In Spain ... 23.7 percent of those 15 to 29 have simply given up [on school or work] ... In France, it’s 16.7 percent — nearly two million young people who have given up; in Italy, 20.5 percent."
The piece attributes these high rates to the "euro crisis" — though my colleague Dean Baker takes Erlanger to task on exactly what Erlanger seems to mean by that.
If NYT readers knew the U.S. NEET rate, they would be able to ask why the rates here are so close to those in France even though we don't have a euro crisis, or apparently, "an elitist educational tradition," or rigid European-style labor markets, or high European-style taxes, or strong European-style job protection laws.