zines need love too!
What advice would you give to your younger self? @TiffanyPersons shares a letter she wrote. #womeninspire @Gapinc  →
Unemployed Young People Are Costing Americans Billions of Tax Dollars Unemployed Young People Are Costing Americans Billions of Tax Dollars

Unemployed Young People Are Costing Americans Billions of Tax Dollars

by Nona Willis Aronowitz
January 21, 2012

Whether the rhetoric is coming from the left or the right, politicians and journalists love to pity recession-era youth. "Think of the children!" Republicans crowed during the deficit debacle. "Are we condemning our children to downward mobility?" wrote a concerned Newsweek reporter in 2009. But a new report [PDF] should boomerang their concern right back home: Every unemployed, non-matriculating young person (there are around 6.7 million of them between ages 16-24) costs taxpayers $13,900 a year.

That's $437 billion over the next five years, a figure that balloons to $1.15 trillion over the course of their lifetime. The total impact to the economy will reach $4.7 trillion over the next several decades. So why are older adults still acting as if the lives of their poor, poor children are the only ones at stake?

An unemployed young person is a special kind of burden to society. For all the airtime devoted to food stamps, welfare, and health care, the exorbitant crime costs of jobless youth dwarf anything else—more than $11,000 of nearly $14,000 in tax dollars per young person. And since the young and jobless earn less later in life than employed youth, the lost tax revenue and economic stimulus over time is exponential. This kind of crisis puts government's inaction over jobs and education into stark relief. It's not just our bleak future previous generations should be worrying about—it's theirs, too.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Ethan M. Long.

Join the discussion
  • This Tree Produces Forty Types of Fruit The living, edible art of Sam Van Aken's grafted stone fruit experiment
    Maxwell Williams
  • Dear 14-Year-Old Me The intuitive, emotional side of yourself guides your experiences and shapes how you learn. You grasp information viscerally, which can make traditional schooling a little bit harder for you.
    Tiffany Persons
  • Danish Architects Reimagine the Zoo The search for a more ethical wildlife park
    Caroline Pham
  • Learning to Farm Fish Responsibly Breakthroughs in aquaculture are winning over longtime skeptics.
    Kelly McCartney
  • Stories for Boys Sundance-winner Rich Hill picks up where Linklater left off.
    Joshua Neuman
  • The Human Side of Spam Spanish photographer Christina de Middel smudges fact and fiction with her staged images of Russian widows and Nigerian lawyers in distress.
    Caroline Pham