Millennial Unemployment In January 2013 Rose Much Faster Than National Rate

02/06/2013 01:45 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2013

The unemployment rate for millennials (Americans aged 18 to 29) increased to 13.1 percent last month, according to the January jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Overall unemployment rose slightly to 7.9 percent nationwide, but the increase was much sharper for millennials, up from 11.5 percent the month before and 10.9 percent in November 2012. As calculated by Generation Opportunity, a conservative-leaning millennial advocacy group, January saw the highest millennial unemployment rate since at least June 2012, when it was 12.8 percent.

Even the college graduates and millennials who are able to find jobs aren't entirely out of the woods. A 2009 Yale University study showed students who graduate into a recession can expect to earn a 10 percent lower wage after a decade of work than they otherwise would have earned in a strong economy.

According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, inflation-adjusted wages for young high school graduates declined by 11.1 percent between 2000 and 2011, and the real wages of young college graduates declined by 5.4 percent. EPI also saw evidence among millennials of a hesitation to seek new employment opportunities, with 30 percent fewer voluntary quits each month.

While a nearly 2 percent jump in the unemployment rare may seem huge, there are a number of caveats to consider when reviewing employment data for millennials. Young workers have historically had a harder time finding full employment, simply because they have less experience and are new to the labor force. Throughout the Reagan presidency, the unemployment rate for young workers (25 and under) struggled to get below 12 percent. It didn't drop for that age group to significantly below 10 percent until the end of the Clinton presidency.

Reports that assert about half of all current college graduates are underemployed are alarming, but the record low share of joblessness or underemployment among these workers was 41 percent, in 2000, according to the Associated Press.

It also pays for younger Americans to stay in school: An analysis of U.S. Census data by the Pew Economic Mobility Project released in January conceded wages are down and student debt is up, but concluded that fewer recent graduates fell out of work entirely, sheltered by their college degrees.

According to a study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the unemployment rate of recent college graduates was 6.8 percent 2012 -- well below the national rate, as well as the rate for all millennials.

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