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With so many millennials out of work, why is Massachusetts targeting middle-age unemployed for aid?

Posted by Alan Wirzbicki  May 29, 2012 03:01 PM

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State lawmakers are moving ahead with $10 million for job training for those 50 and older. But what about jobs for us millennials, the young adults who have just finished college and grad school and are even more likely to be jobless than older workers?

The younger you are, the tougher it is to find work. The unemployment rate is 13 percent for those 20 to 24 and 8.2 percent for 25-34 year olds. For those between 50 and retirement age, it's about 6 percent — still too high, but below the 8.1 percent jobless rate for all workers. The problem isn't just that too many of us are out of work; studies show that the unemployed young will earn less over decades when they find work than peers who started work earlier and are more likely to go through a second period of unemployment. Those aren't auspicious signs for anyone who needs to pay off thousands in student loan debt, let alone build a career or start a family.

The reality is that workers of all ages are struggling to find jobs, and the solution isn't a hodgepodge of programs targeted to whoever is the favored demographic du jour. We need a more sustainable, faster-growing economy. Job training and any other program matching employers with potential hires is a good thing, but that's working at the margins when less than half of the jobs around at the start of the Great Recession have returned. Policymakers should be focusing on long-term investments in growing sectors where jobs will be needed in coming decades — health care, energy, education. Once those are in place, both millennials like me and everyone else will have a better shot at finding work and making a living.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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