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Money Minute: Jobless without a cause [Video]

April 09, 2012|By David Lazarus

A closer look at Friday's jobs numbers reveals, well, more trouble on the economic front.

For the general population, the unemployment rate is now 8.2%. But for teens ages 16 to 19, the jobless rate soars to about 25%. For Hispanic teens, that stat rises to 30%. For black teens, 40%.

Not good.

Part of the problem is that companies just aren't hiring much. Also, jobs in the fast-food and retail sectors that might usually go to young people just getting a start in the work world are being jealously clung to by grown-ups grateful for any paycheck.

This trend has broad ramifications. First, summer jobs will likely be scarce, denying young people a chance to gain the skills and values that will help them in later years. Second, many young people might feel discouraged about their prospects well in advance of the time that most of us usually start feeling discouraged (you know, deeper into our careers).

Then there's the matter of lots of young people having nothing else to do but get into trouble.

What's the solution? One idea would be for private companies to pony up millions of dollars for internship programs. Or we could always reinstate the draft. I'm guessing both those proposals will go nowhere.

Or how about apprenticeships? This might be a way to occupy young hands that would otherwise be idle. And the mentor, in the grand tradition of apprenticeships throughout history, wouldn't have to pay much, maybe a meal here and there.

A perfect solution? No. Better than nothing? Yeah.

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