Youth Unemployment: The ever-rising price of government cuts

Posted on: 16 September 2011 by Alexander Hay

As unemployment rises ever higher, and a generation of young workers without jobs goes to waste, how can the government continue to keep cutting public spending?

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?The news has not made for edifying reading. Official unemployment levels are now over 2.5 million, with youth joblessness up by 11%. Of the 80,000 new unemployed workers, 70,000 were between 18 and 24.

There but for the grace of God, of course, but the rest of us will have to pay a price too, in the form of taxes to sustain these people until they manage to find work again.

This will have as disastrous an effect on society as the mass unemployment of the early 1980s. Living a long time without a job changes the person in question. They become less optimistic, less motivated and ever more convinced that there will be no way out.

Many a blighted area in the old industrial towns and cities has its roots in this malaise becoming common place. The current recession will simply add to and worsen this ongoing disaster.

What is different this time is that the unemployment has crossed the class barrier. An ever growing number of graduates, having paid crippling tuition fees, are now being forced into the doles queue or low paid work.

For them the promises made by university education, even as the price of that education continued to rise, has proven false. With the arrival of £27,000 and £36,000 degree costs, the expansion of the university sector itself may be nearing an end, leading to further redundancies.

Hope of a recovery seems sparse at present. The rate of joblessness is a good indicator of a renewed downturn, but whether the current Eurozone crisis or America's ongoing economic lethargy will conspire to make things worse, we can only wait and see.

However, what is certain is that three years after the 2008 crash, we are showing little signs of recovery, but rather, more social and economic decay.

The current government must take the blame, not for what happened before its tenure began in 2010, which was down to another government spending too much, but what it did after, which is to spend too little.

Cutting public services, while it prods a certain primitive pleasure centre in the Conservative party group-mind, simply makes recessions worse. The unemployed have less support, communities grow less economically attractive as their infrastructure decays and the unemployment roles are filled with ex-public employees who are no longer able to boost the economy with their spending.

There is an argument to be made for greater efficiencies in what the state does and a reassessment of what it is for. But removing what is often the main source of employment in an area, like in those aforementioned former industrial hubs, will have much the same effect as the decline of heavy industry.

The main goal of reducing the deficit was an ideological rather than a practical one. The long term cost will be most expensive. At the very least, we have failed a generation of young, potentially productive workers and we are losing their potential at this very moment.

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Alexander Hay

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