Despite some sketchy signs of economic improvement, finding a job in this ongoing recession remains tough sledding for anyone out of work.
It's especially tough for younger Minnesotans.
According to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based private charity, the percentage of employed Minnesotans ages 16 to 24 has plummeted since 2000, from 73 percent employed 12 years ago to 60 percent last year. The numbers are even worse for the youngest of these younger Minnesotans: In 2000, 63 percent of them had jobs; by last year, fewer than half of them, a shockingly low 42 percent of them, were employed.
Yes, be troubled and concerned: Approximately 57,000 young people in Minnesota are disconnected. That means they're not in school and not working. In other words, they're not contributing and likely not seeing their role in society or their place in life.
"These youth are at risk of being placed on a trajectory of reduced opportunities and earnings throughout their lifetime, which will affect their ability to support themselves and contribute to their communities and society," Stephanie Hogenson, outreach specialist for the Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, said in a statement yesterday about the study. "Many Minnesota youth and young adults are struggling in this economy to find jobs and gain skills ... ."
There's good news. Minnesota's numbers are better than the national figures. Minnesota ranks fifth overall for opportunities for youths and the current state of youth. Wisconsin ranks 15th. In addition, the academic achievement and health of young people overall has improved in most states since 2000, according to the report, which can be found at datacenter.kidscount.org.
Of all the facts and figures that fly around related to the recession and our too-slow economic recovery, these are perhaps among the most relevant. More and more young people becoming "disconnected" doesn't bode well for our future. Efforts to re-engage the next generation can be embraced -- or soon the tough sledding may be no sledding.
-- Duluth News Tribune