Does President Obama Care About Youth Unemployment?
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

If you’re between the ages of 18-29 chances are you’re either unemployed or underemployed. And if you’re a minority it will probably take you longer to either find a job or switch into a role befitting your education, skill and potential. To make matters worse — this could very well be the new normal. Pres. Obama won reelection with 60% of the youth vote vote (those aged 18-29). Not as high a share he possessed in 2008 but far higher than expected. Months before the election it was thought that many youth voters wouldn’t show up at the polls. And for good reason. For the first time ever, young people are expected to obtain more education and invest more in it (three-fold increase in tuition the past 30 years) all while receiving less pay and job security out of it. So it’s not surprising that, according to the Young Entrepreneur Council, “86% of recent grads feel they don’t have enough support from the federal government.” Or that compared to 2011 37% fewer people feel they’ll be as financially successful as their parents. But youth voters did indeed show up at the polls. Their 19% share of the electorate was an increase from 18% in 2008. May not sound like much but for three straight elections — 1996-2004 — their share of the electorate stayed the same at 17%. So why did youths continue to support Mr. Obama? Mostly social issues. His (newfound) but presumably earnest support for same-sex marriage and steadfast support for pay equality and access to affordable healthcare played a significant role in how he was perceived by young people who grew up in a much more diverse culture than the one the Republican party espouses and seems to want to take America back to. One voter likened it to changing technology and said to a reporter: “It’s 2012. The Apple mentality is taking over,” she said. “The GOP’s outdated social views make it the equivalent of a PC.” But if politics is mostly PCs vs. Macs it would seem as if Mr. Obama is largely eschewing change and just running outdated software that can’t keep up with our changing needs. At one point Mr. Obama suggested he wanted to “consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies” under a new cabinet post: Secretary of Business. Never mind that merging federal agencies guarantees no better results than just running existing agencies in a capable manner (the prime example being the Department of Homeland Security); or the fact that as congressman Paul Ryan eloquently stated: “We already have a secretary of business, it’s called the secretary of commerce.” So really it seems Mr. Obama was just playing word games in order to earn some credibility in the business community and among independent voters who yearn for government ‘finally getting it when it comes to business.’ But let’s focus on what we didn’t hear: any credible plans or leadership changes that will focus on eradicating youth unemployment, diminishing student loans, or creating a more prosperous future for young adults.