Younger voter unemployment at 12.1%, threatens Obama

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets


President Obama’s 2008 political wizardry in inspiring younger voters to storm the voting polls for his change message has hit the brick wall of persistent unemployment and threatens to drain their enthusiasm for his reelection.

According to federal statistics, the unemployment rate of 18-29 year olds reached 12.1 percent in May and when those who have given up looking for work are added in, the rate skyrockets to 16.9 percent. The national unemployment rate for all Americans is 8.2 percent.

And among the very young, 16-19 year olds, unemployment is 20.6 percent. And among African Americans in that age group the rate is 40.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a major hurdle to the reelection campaign’s bid to to energize young blacks turning 18 by Election Day.

A recent Harvard University poll showed Obama beating Mitt Romney among younger voters, but they lacked the passion of 2008, in part because they can’t find jobs. And among the largest group of younger voters, white millennials, Obama and Romney are nearly tied at 37 to 34 percent. Obama won that group handily by 10 percent in 2008.

It is just the latest core Democratic base group that has been hit by unemployment, resulting in some voter apathy, though the campaign says it is confident of reviving support during campus events and through some of the president’s social initiatives, such as coming out for gay marriage.

But critics like Generation Opportunity are even calling on younger voters to call the White House to demand action to create jobs. The group has created a Facebook page to rally younger voters to push for a new jobs agenda.

The group said that younger Americans are being “denied economic opportunity.” Paul Conway, the former GOP labor official who heads the group, is urging younger voters to “tell President Obama the time is now for real change. America can do better.”