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Generation Jobless 

Examining lack of opportunities for youth in Sonoma County

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As of July 2013, the unemployment rate for youth is 21 percent. It's rising every year, not only in Sonoma County, but everywhere around the United States. Research that I have conducted reveals a picture of unemployment within Sonoma County specifically within youth ages 18 to 24.

I wanted to understand why our youth feel discouraged over the low-wage job opportunities that Sonoma County offers. I conducted a survey of 100 phone interviews and looked at several aspects that may contribute to my hypothesis.

I hypothesized that most of the youth in Sonoma County are unemployed, with few jobs being available for 18–24 year olds, and assumed that if an 18–24 year old were offered a job with hourly pay at $8.75, he or she would take it. According to my research, of those between the ages of 18 and 24 who are employed, 28 percent work full-time, 67 percent work part-time and 5 percent are on-call. Twenty-seven percent of youth in this age bracket are in school full-time, while 60 percent are not in school; 58.5 percent of these youths are employed in Sonoma County.

The last question I asked in my phone survey was "Do you ever feel discouraged thinking about your job opportunities?" Exactly 50 percent answered yes and 50 percent answered no.

After doing more research from the phone surveys, I found that 60 percent of unemployed youth would take a job that paid $8.75 per hour and 40 percent would not. Sixty percent also think our market is discouraging, while 40 percent don't. Seventy-one percent of youth unemployed in Sonoma County are full-time students, 16 percent of them are part-time students and 13 percent are not in school. Sixty-three percent say they are job searching, while 37 percent are not actively looking.

Even though my phone survey results show that more youth are employed in Sonoma County, the unemployment rate is still rising every year. The "discouraged worker" among youth is becoming more evident in the world.

Frankie Larios is a student currently studying at SSU.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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