Austerity Policies Hit Young Workers The Hardest, Report Says

Spain officially plunged into its second recession in three years Monday, just days after the United Kingdom suffered the same fate. The driver of economic slowdowns across the European continent is austerity, the rapid reduction in debt and deficits that fails to address joblessness and leads to economic contraction.

Though the U.S. is experiencing slow but steady economic growth, austere economic policies are jeopardizing the future of the American economy as well. Half of the nation’s recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed, according to data from Drexel University and the Economic Policy Institute. Republicans seized on the report as proof of President Obama’s failure, but youth employment numbers will only get worse under the GOP’s policies of austerity. That’s because austere government policies hit young workers the hardest, according to a new report from the International Labour Organization, as CNBC reports:

Youth unemployment has been singled out for particular concern in developed economies which critics argue governments have been slow to deal with. [Author of the report Raymond] Torres said the effects of austerity were particularly skewed against youth.

It’s impossible to see massive declines in youth unemployment unless the economy itself starts to recover, because the youth are disproportionately affected by the stagnation and the recession. There are good practices that show that those countries which combine youth study with work experience do better,” he said.

As Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman notes, Europe provides ample proof of austerity’s failures for young workers. In Ireland, nearly a third of young workers are unemployed. In Spain, the unemployment rate for workers under age 25 tops 50 percent. Across America, public sector budget cuts have hit younger workers hardest. The effects are damning — young workers who enter a depressed workforce spend the rest of their lives making up the lost wages, affecting economic growth for decades.


Conservatives in the United States and Europe have pursued deficit and debt reduction policies with reckless abandon since the end of the Great Recession under the assumption that they would spark investor confidence and inspire growth. The opposite has been true. Austerity is failing across Europe, particularly for the young workers economies will depend on in the future. And yet, Republicans continue to push the same policies right here at home.