(US law) The Employment Scene for Younger Workers
Unemployment is a major problem for younger Americans. The unemployment rate has risen by nearly 5 percent over the last ten years for those in the 20-24 age bracket. There have also been increases for other age brackets in the wake of the Great Recession, but the youngest workers are suffering to a larger degree than those workers of other ages. The unemployment rate for 2011 was over 14 percent for those aged 20-24 years.
Many people who are not included in the unemployment numbers are actually still in what would be considered the underemployed category. This includes those people who are employed below their level of education or experience as well as those who are working less than a full-time schedule. If the number of underemployed were added to the unemployed numbers for those who are under 25, the number would be even more disconcerting.
Why Do Younger Adults Often Stay in Bad Jobs?
Some of the major employers in the fast food and retail sectors that provide jobs for the underemployed young adults of America provide some benefits for their employees. These are frequently not ideal jobs that allow younger adults to take advantage of their educations or talents, nor do they provide the income that is necessary to achieve the independence desired by these young people and their parents. Many of these employees stay in what some would consider to be dead-end jobs, and their parents’ houses, because of the benefits. One of the most important benefits that a job can provide is health insurance.
There are a few reasons why workers might want to keep the insurance a job provides, in spite of the employment itself providing little in the way of advancement or the cultivation of useful experience. Some of these individuals have medical conditions that they would not be able to manage without employer-sponsored insurance. Insurance for those with preexisting conditions is frequently unavailable, or, if it is available, it is cost-prohibitive. The self-employed also have to pay more than those who are in group plans. A gap in insurance coverage could lead to costly medical bills, and insurance companies would not be required to pay for any illnesses developed during the gap. Those who are self-employed are forced to pay higher premiums for the same coverage. All of these facts can discourage young adults from taking any employment risks, and keep them in unfruitful occupations.
How Can the New Health Care Law Help Young Workers?
The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, promises to alleviate some of these concerns. Younger workers will see some benefits after the new program is implemented that could help their economic and employment options greatly.
Younger workers can now stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26. Some complain that this encourages increased dependence. This would not necessarily be the case. Those who could not afford a break in coverage previously can now have insurance while taking a job in their field that may not offer benefits. These workers could then get beneficial experience in their profession that would have otherwise been spent in a non-related service industry.
More employers are likely to provide insurance. With the tax penalties that will result if insurance is not offered, young workers are more likely to have insurance while working for employers that can advance their careers. They will not be pigeonholed into keeping jobs that do not reflect their interest or expertise merely because they need the benefits.
One final benefit that Obamacare provides that will help free young workers from bad jobs is the end of restrictions based upon preexisting medical conditions. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit will be more likely to strike out on their own and start their own business or try to invent the next big thing because the fear of being uninsurable will be gone. All of society could benefit from this provision. While there are many people who complain about some of the provisions of the bill, younger workers could benefit more than most.