Youth joblessness across the eurozone has been more than twice the overall unemployment rate, while the connection between lack of work and inequality can be seen in Eurostat data showing a rising proportion of 15-to-24-year-olds at risk of poverty and social exclusion over the six years to 2011.
Neither is the problem solely European. The last time US youth unemployment was below 10 percent was at the height of the dot-com boom in 2000, while it reached 17 percent in 2011.
Many people’s preferred measure of the true level of youth unemployment — so-called NEETs, or those Not in Employment, Education or Training — reduces the more alarming numbers.
So, despite oft-cited statistics that almost every second Spanish or Greek youth is out of work, high levels of third-level education there show NEETs much lower, at about 18 percent.
However, Amlan Roy, Credit Suisse’s head of demographics and pension research, said that a lack of progress in creating jobs for young adults means that there is no guarantee that those staying in education will find work on graduation.
In a summit statement last month, EU leaders committed to a youth employment initiative that sets aside almost 6 billion euros (US$7.75 billion) for the worst-affected regions over seven years.
However, with this amounting to less than 1,000 euros for each jobless young person in the EU, many are skeptical of success.
“The longer the disengagement lasts, the harder it is to bridge the skills gap and get a foot on the employment ladder. This has an effect on future wealth and living conditions,” Roy wrote.