It is not a good time to be young. Our youth are bearing the brunt of the economic depression and its self-defeating solution of austerity and cuts. The future to them looks bleak; unemployment, debt and homelessness in various combinations, or all three beckon. Of course these three scourges (unemployment-debt-homelessness) are linked.
A report entitled "Youth unemployment: the crisis we cannot afford" produced by ACEVO (Association of Chief Executive of Voluntary Organisations) puts the human cost thus:
"Unemployment hurts at any age; but for young people, long-term unemployment scars for life. It means lower earnings, more unemployment, [and] more ill health later in life. It means more inequality between rich and poor -- because the pain hits the most disadvantaged."
The report quantifies the financial cost as follows:
"The human misery of youth unemployment is also a time-bomb under the nation's finances. At its current rates, in 2012 youth unemployment will cost the [British] exchequer -4.8 billion (more than the budget for further education for 16-to-19-year-olds in England) and cost the economy 10.7 billion pounds in lost output. But the costs are not just temporary. The scarring effects of youth unemployment at its current levels will ratchet up further future costs of 2.9 billion pounds per year for the exchequer (equivalent to the entire annual budget for Jobcentre Plus) and -6.3 billion p.a. for the economy in lost output. The net present value of the cost to the Treasury, even looking only a decade ahead, is approximately 28 billion pounds ."
A study in the US on the effects of unemployment on crime concludes:
"We find significantly positive effects of unemployment on property crime rates that are stable across model specifications. Our estimates suggest that a substantial portion of the decline in property crime rates during the 1990s is attributable to the decline in the unemployment rate."
"Unemployment sucks. Youth unemployment sucks even more", as one business school professor puts it.
Faced with such personal, societal and financial costs, the response of governments has been at best complacent, but more accurately described as negligent. You would think the scourge of unemployment would be prioritized and made central to any actions that are taken. Instead, governments have put deficit reduction at the centre of their economic policy, and ignored its impact on society.