The Youth Vote Matters

Young people in America went out to the polls in 2008 in search of change. Three years after they sought out hope and change, young Americans now find themselves facing change they hadn’t counted on:  They are among those most struggling to find work.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, teenagers aged 16-19 years old face an unemployment rate of 24.5%; and with a stagnant job market, young men and women graduating from college also face an uphill battle finding work after college. That troubling reality is magnified by the fact that many of these graduates will need to pay back expensive student loans or, alternately, seek out advanced degrees in hopes of waiting the slump out – acquiring more debt in the process.

Bad policies such as failed stimulus plans, quantitative easing, and the threat of increased taxes have all stalled hiring in the job market. In fact, the nation’s current hiring rate is only .1% higher than the rate of hiring when Obama took office in 2009.

The ramifications of low youth employment are bigger than just the immediate lack of income for young people. The skills that teens and young adults develop from employment help in the job search further down the line. Anyone who has gone on the job hunt knows one thing, for sure:  Experience matters.

So what does this mean for 2012? Assuming the economy doesn’t get better, the youth vote that turned out for Obama less than three years ago could turn against him this time. Half of the 11,000 attendees at February’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were college students.  These young voters showed that they can – and will – vote for change.  Again.

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