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Free Essay on Unemployment

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With fewer than 40 percent of teens in the labor force in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit and closer to 20 percent in New York (Wall Street Journal [WSJ], 1991), we should be alarmed. Why are such small numbers of urban teens working or seeking work? Perhaps, these city kids do want to work, but the resources just aren’t there. With more teens falling out of the labor force and into the “hidden unemployed”, the economies of our large cities are going to take a hit; causing the national economy to suffer as well.

In the case of Alex Perez (WSJ), as with many other urban youth, he is not being counted as part of the labor force or as unemployed. Alex is a prime example of the discouraged worker or “hidden unemployed”, who is an individual that falls out of the labor force because he or she is convinced of not finding a suitable job (Miller, 2001, pg. 148). Even though Alex would like to have a job and is technically unemployed, he is not counted statistically because he is not searching for work in the “proper” manner. Thus, the number of teens in the labor force is lower than it should be and the unemployment rate does not appear to be nearly as high as it actually is.

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Without positive role models the urban teens often suffer from a lack of job finding skills as well as poor work ethics. Especially since it is hard to find a job in their own neighborhoods, this type of teenager is more likely to get discouraged and simply stop looking for work, which is precisely the reason that the percentage of teens in our big city labor force is so low. It is not that they don’t want to work; it’s that they are frightened by the world outside of how they know it. Another factor to consider is that the predominant industries in major cities tend to create fewer part time jobs hence there is less opportunity for student employment (WSJ, 1991). And, with higher minimum wage rates, employers are less likely to hirer under skilled teenagers in favor of older more experienced employees (Project 21, 1995). For the often frighten, unknowing teens, these circumstances make for a difficult, seemingly impossible leap into the job market (WSJ, 1991).

The trend of decreasing teens in the labor force may give the effect of a shrinking national unemployment rate as it is reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but it is in error due to the increasingly high numbers of discouraged workers, especially amongst urban teens. If nothing is done to resolve this unemployment problem it will eventually result in a reduction of national economic development, with a more direct effect on major cities due to the fact that teenage unemployment lends itself to a more viscous cycle. Teens that are unemployed grow up to be adults who are unemployed, leading to an underdeveloped community which is more susceptible to illegal activities. Without proper opportunities of work these urban teenagers will be less likely to have an honest job or to make viable contributions to the economy. This means that our country’s economic development will slowly depreciate and give way to less economic growth in the future.

We have all heard it before, the children are our future. Unfortunately, the future doesn’t look very bright for many big city teens. With so many of them falling out of the labor force, we are bound to see problems. Discouraged and disheartened by the lack of work and the bleakness of an opportunity for self improvement, these unemployed teens turn to the street for answers. The answer is continued poverty enhanced by a life of crime and drugs. And so the cycle continues. More urban kids grow up poor with less positive influences to lead the way and in the end the economy suffers. The entire nation will suffer unless something is done to reverse this trend.

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