As President Obama prepares to unveil his new (which, from what I hear, sounds a lot like the old) job-creation plan in a primetime joint session of Congress scheduled for Thursday night, he doesn’t exactly have the strongest lead-in. Last week’s jobs report from the Department of Labor revealed the economy added zero (yes, none) jobs last month overall, leaving unemployment at 9.1%.

And even worse, the report also showed unemployment is particularly high among young Americans (age 18-24) — an eye-popping 16.4%, marking the sixth straight month youth joblessness exceeded 16%, according to the New York Times. 
 
“Today’s unemployment numbers for American workers under the age of 30 is yet again the highest of any age demographic in America and is approximately double the average for Americans over 30,” says Matthew Segal, co-founder and president of OUR TIME, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for Americans under age 30. “This staggering statistic exposes our nation’s ongoing neglect of young workers who also face the deepest student loan debt in history.”

Segal continued that Gen Y is “an untapped resource for American growth. We have an obtuse political system that rarely seeks the counsel, ideas or perspectives of young entrepreneurs, business leaders or unemployed workers as part of any political economic advisory team. What kind of message is Washington sending my generation? They cozy up to us during campaign season, but when it comes time to create policy, we are overlooked.”

Certainly, I feel for younger workers trying to navigate the current job market, and definitely understand Segal’s frustration toward the political establishment. I think as the 2012 presidential election heats up, backlash and/or apathy from Gen Y — who represent a big reason Obama won the White House in the first place — may end up hurting the president.

As for employers, though, what are companies to do? In such fragile economic times, would you hire a candidate with a proven track record or a younger worker, with limited work experience but eager to make her mark on your company and be its next big star? What role can/should employers play to help Gen Y be “day-one ready” for work, thus bringing down youth unemployment?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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